BOISE, Idaho (CBS2) — When Matteo Jorgenson graduated from Boise High School in 2017, he had a tough choice to make: go to college, or try to become a pro cyclist in Europe. Safe to say, he made the right choice.
Jorgenson recently inked a three-year deal with Team Jumbo-Visma after racing with Movistar Team for the past few years. Jumbo is currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the world according to UCI, but they've been trading places with No. 1 UAE Team Emirates for much of the year, and likely will continue to do so.
Jorgenson was recently in Boise, rehabbing from a hamstring injury that forced him to abandon this year's Tour. He spoke with CBS2 about his Jumbo contract, his last few races and his early racing career.
"It's always been a dream of mine to join one of the biggest teams in the sport," Jorgenson said regarding his move to TJV. "I think it's important always to try to surround yourself with the best people. I personally learn a lot just by being around people that I look up to, and people that are better than me, so it's something that was really exciting, and when the opportunity came my way I jumped on it."
Jorgenson's Jumbo contract is the culmination of years of effort which dates back to his time as a youth rider. But what really got the ball rolling was what he did after graduating high school.
"I got an opportunity to go on another big pro teams' development team," Jorgenson said. "They're a team for younger riders... it was a French team. Yeah, I spent a year, they basically moved me to France."
Jorgenson traveled across the globe from Boise to France. With none of his teammates knowing English, he had to learn French, all while he worked to developed as a racer.
"It was really important to live over there full time for a year when I was young, and learn kind of how to race," Jorgenson said. "Thankfully through that year, I got some good results in Europe, I got the attention of Movistar and they brought me on."
As a pro, Jorgenson gradually got going, and he viewed 2022 as a chance to breakout. He did break out, but not in the way he envisioned.
Jorgenson was supposed to race in the 2022 Giro d'Italia, but an injury prior to the race kept him off the bike. When he finished rehabbing, he got the shock of his life: a place in Movistar's team for the Tour.
"The team basically said, yeah we think you'd be ready to do the Tour, and yeah it was kind of a blessing in disguise that injury, and yeah it was a huge moment for me doing my first Tour," Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson aided his team, but he also had a few stellar individual days at the 2022 Tour. On stage 16 of the 2022 Tour, Jorgenson suffered a crash while chasing down the race leader but he still managed to finish 4th on the day.
His strong 2022 Tour catapulted his name into discussion as one of the best upcoming cyclists. In early 2023, Jorgenson managed to not only win a stage, but an entire general classification race.
Jorgenson won the 2023 Tour of Oman, by a single second
"It was pretty close in the end. I think I only won by a second," Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson and his family admitted that they didn't know who won initially, due to how close the race was. His mother Cheri, was watching on a livestream in the U.S.; she noted the livestream cut out and she had a few minutes waiting until she found out Matteo had won.
Matteo spoke about his relief, finding himself the winner of a major stage race.
"It was a huge moment of relief really, just knowing that I was doing everything right, and that I was good enough to do it," Jorgenson said.
In this year's Tour, Jorgenson experienced great highs and a few disappointments. His team leader, Enric Mas, had to abandon on the first day of the race due to injury.
Then, Jorgenson nearly won a stage that ended with a massive climb on the Puy de Dôme. His solo breakaway that began with about 50km to go ended in heartbreak, with Jorgenson getting passed right at the end by three riders. While he was disappointed having been so close to a Tour stage win, he admitted that he was proud of his effort, which saw him win the daily award for the Most Combative Rider.
Jorgenson also finished 3rd on stage 12 of the Tour, though he noted he was more frustrated with 3rd on that day, feeling that he could've won the day.
His Tour ended a few days later sadly. Jorgenson sustained a hamstring injury in a major collision in stage 15. He finished the day, but chose not to start stage 16, knowing that he would've in all likelihood worsened the injury.
Jorgenson recently finished rehabbing the injury when he announced the Jumbo deal. He's not sure exactly which races he'll compete in for Jumbo next season, but the cyclist is more confident than ever that he'll be able to support his world-class teammates, as Jumbo looks to be the best team in cycling.