American rider Matteo Jorgenson wins the Paris-Nice stage race for the first time

Belgium's Remco Evenepoel, left, Matteo Jorgenson of the United States, center, and Brandon Mcnulty of the United States celebrate on the podium after the eighth and final stage of the Paris-Nice cycling race in Nice, Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel, left, Matteo Jorgenson of the United States, center, and Brandon Mcnulty of the United States celebrate on the podium after the eighth and final stage of the Paris-Nice cycling race in Nice, Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

NICE, France (AP) — American rider Matteo Jorgenson won the Paris-Nice stage race for the first time on Sunday, with Belgian Remco Evenepoel clinching the final stage to finish second overall.

The 24-year-old Jorgenson, who races for the Visma–Lease team and lives in Nice, secured the biggest victory of his career after winning the Tour of Oman last year.

“To be honest, I never expected to win Paris-Nice. Until this year, I never thought it was possible. But here we are,” Jorgenson said. “I could barely sleep last night. I was so nervous. I felt pressure for the first time in my life. To ride with such a champion as Remco was a very special moment.”

Evenepoel beat him in a sprint to the line to win Sunday’s eighth stage, a hilly 109-kilometer (68-mile) trek with two big climbs starting and finishing in Nice on France’s Côte d’Azur.

Evenepoel and Jorgenson were both giving the same winning time of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 3 seconds, with Russian cyclist Aleksandr Vlasov crossing the line 50 seconds behind in third spot.

“I’m not going to get ahead of myself. It’s already a great achievement in my life,” the jubilant Jorgenson said. “I will now try to enjoy it and keep my feet on the ground.”

In the overall standings, Jorgenson finished 30 seconds ahead of Evenepoel (Soudal–Quick-Step) and 1 minute, 47 seconds clear of countryman and childhood friend Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), the overnight leader.

Evenepoel praised Jorgenson for staying with him when he surged ahead in the climbs.

“If you’ve seen my attacks today, only one guy could follow, it was Matteo,” he said. “Matteo is the deserved winner of this race.”

The 25-year-old McNulty was fifth in Sunday’s final stage.

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AP cycling: https://apnews.com/hub/cycling

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