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Matteo Jorgenson wins Paris-Nice in historic podium for U.S. cycling

Matteo Jorgenson became the third American to win Paris-Nice, while countryman Brandon McNulty took third for a landmark podium in U.S. men’s road cycling history.

Jorgenson, 24, won the storied eight-day stage race running down the heart of France, by 30 seconds over Belgian Remco Evenepoel.

“Until this year, I never would have believed that this is possible,” said Jorgenson, who resides in Nice.

The 25-year-old McNulty, who began Sunday in the lead, held on for third place.

The pre-event favorites were Evenepoel, who owns a Grand Tour title (2022 Vuelta), plus world titles in the time trial (2023) and road race (2022). And Slovenian Primož Roglič, a three-time Vuelta a España winner, the reigning Giro d’Italia champion and the 2020 Tour de France runner-up.

Jorgenson and McNulty rose through the junior ranks together, sharing a coach and rooms while traveling Europe in their teens.

“We both kind of saw that pro cycling was possible together,” Jorgenson said Saturday.

Paris-Nice was not only the highlight of each’s career thus far, but it was also an unprecedented result for U.S. men’s road cycling.

American men have never gone one-two or one-three in the three Grand Tours — Tour de France, Giro, Vuelta — nor at the Olympics, world championships or any of cycling’s one-day monuments -- Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia.

Americans previously won Paris-Nice (Bobby Julich in 2005 and Floyd Landis in 2006), but neither was joined on the podium by a countryman.

American women have experienced major one-twos: Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Rebecca Twigg in the first Olympic women’s road race in 1984 and Megan Guarnier and Evelyn Stevens in the 2016 Giro.

This year, Jorgenson joined the world’s dominant team — Visma-Lease a Bike.

Visma boasts two-time reigning Tour de France champ Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark and Sepp Kuss, who last September captured the Vuelta to become the fourth American man to win one of the sport’s three Grand Tours.

“I could barely sleep last night, to be honest with you,” Jorgenson said. “I was so nervous and, yeah, I felt for the first time in my life pressure.”

McNulty, the 2016 World junior time trial champion, joined UAE Team Emirates in 2020. He has become one of the biggest stars of its supporting cast around two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia.

In his Olympic debut in Tokyo, McNulty was the top American man in the road race (sixth) and time trial (24th).

Last year, McNulty won a mountain stage of the Giro, his lone Grand Tour start in 2023.

Expect Vingegaard and Pogačar, who did not race Paris-Roubaix, to lead their teams in the Grand Tour season, which begins with the Giro starting May 4. Pogačar is expected to race the Giro.

Pogačar and Vingegaard are both expected for the Tour de France, which runs from June 29 to July 21. The Tour ends in Nice rather than Paris as the French capital prepares for the Olympic Opening Ceremony on July 26.

The last U.S. Olympic men’s road cycling medal was Levi Leipheimer’s time trial bronze in 2008.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Levi Leipheimer won the last Olympic men’s cycling medal. Americans Connor Fields, Mike Day and Donny Robinson have more recently won Olympic medals in BMX, which is also a cycling discipline.