The last time the Puy de Dôme featured in the Tour de France, Matteo Jorgenson was still over 10 years away from being born. Despite this lack of first-hand knowledge of one of the mythical climbs of the Tour, the American was the first onto its vertiginous slopes on Sunday evening.
However, despite a minute gap on his chasers going onto the final climb on stage nine, the Movistar rider had his heart broken, as he was first caught by Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech), then Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), then Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious). Woods went onto win.
There was no podium finish for the 24-year-old, just a consolation combativity award. Gold numbers on Tuesday might not salve those wounds.
“I started to feel empty with 1k to go. And then before I knew it, Mike was there passing me,” Jorgenson said post-stage. “It was a surprise, but there was absolutely nothing I could do.”
Jorgenson had attacked with 40km to go from the breakaway he had spent the previous 140km in, thinking it was the only way of doing something.
“I had to play my hand a little bit early,” he said. “I knew if I was in that group I wouldn’t be able to match Mike Woods and Neilson [Powless]. So I knew that I had to get away in a small group or solo.
“I ended up getting solo, so from there I went all in. In the end you just have to hope that behind they blow up or whatever, because a minute at the bottom of that climb wasn’t quite enough.”
The American was the first one on the climb, the first to experience racing on the roads since 1988 in the Tour. With no fans allowed past the 4.2km to go mark, it was a tough ride. It was made even more silent by the fact that his radio didn't work.
“It was way harder having no people and it made it absolutely a mental battle,” he said. “And having no information, you’re just there, suffering, suffering, and in the end, you felt like you were on a training ride because you are so quiet. It was a weird atmosphere.”
“The radio didn’t work the whole climb,” Jorgenson continued. “As soon as we started around the corner [of the mountain], the cars were at the bottom and I didn’t have any radio. So the only time gap I had was the moto.
“He was telling me a minute, then 40 seconds, then 35. And 35 was the last one I got with 1k to go.”
Despite the heartbreak of watching his debut Tour stage win slip through his fingers, Jorgenson was happy that he had made the effort. Another day, it might have paid off - he is certainly one to watch as this race goes on.
“I had to play my hand and go early," he said. I am happy with the risk I took. It could have paid off. Today they were too strong. It was so steep and we were going go slow. He [Woods] just had better legs. At that point, I was completely, completely empty.
“I was close, but chapeau to Mike — 500m at 12 percent is something difficult. I had good legs, that’s a positive sign. There are plenty of opportunities.”
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