Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Michael Mørkøv’s Very Big Milan-Sanremo Adventure

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HomeInterviewsMichael Mørkøv's Very Big Milan-Sanremo Adventure

It’s a long way from Copenhagen to Sanremo. Last autumn we saw Saxo Bank’s Michael Mørkøv ride the classic ‘sit in and sprint’ race in the Copenhagen Worlds — netting 18th and best home rider among the absolute cream of world cycling.

But on Saturday we saw him employ a different tactic, going from the gun and riding in the break for 240 kilometres.

Mørkøv started as a track man, but each year his trajectory towards the top of the road world continues.

Mørkøv won his first track medal in the Danish junior team pursuit championships in 2001; by 2003 he was national junior points champion and made the elite points his own the following year.

He formed a very successful partnership with countryman Marc Hester in the UiV Cup (U23 six days)- but it was with Alex Rasmussen that he won the U23 European madison title in 2005.

Michael Mørkøv
Fan’s favourites Michael and Alex take the cheer from the crowd in Copenhagen this year.

The following season saw him win national medals in the madison, TTT, pursuit, scratch and points — and he was now performing well at World Cup level in the team pursuit and Madison, with Alex Rasmussen.

In 2007 he lifted his first Worlds medal – bronze in the team pursuit – was second in the U23 Tour of Flanders and won his first six day with Rasmussen at Grenoble.

Michael Mørkøv
Michael rides the TT at the Giro.

Olympic year saw him go home with team pursuit silver from Beijing, win multiple Danish championships and take his first UCI road win, a stage in the Giro del Capo.

There was a rainbow jersey in 2009, with Rasmussen in the Madison, and the duo also won the six days of Copenhagen and Gent.

Michael Mørkøv
Ed works for Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen at the Six Days.

His Grand Tour debut came in 2010 in the Giro where a young Saxo team performed strongly.

He again paired with Rasmussen to win sixes in Copenhagen and Berlin.

The Copenhagen six day hat trick came at the start of 2011, before he backed Alberto Contador to an emphatic win in the Giro d’Italia.

There were wins too in Danish criteriums and a close second to Elia Viviani in a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.

Michael Mørkøv
Michael, World Track Champion.

Over the winter of 2011/12 he cut back on his track commitments and this year, in the absence of Saxo strong men Alberto Contador — sitting out his controversial suspension until the Vuelta – and Nick Nuyens, recovering from his Paris-Nice crash where he sustained a fractured hip, Mørkøv will have more freedom to ride for himself.

We caught up with him a day or two after his Primavera adventure.

A nice day’s work, Michael — your second Primavera, so you knew what to expect?

“No surprises, no — it’s a special race, 300 kilometres, it’s a magical border to break for a day’s riding.”

You were away early?

“Within five K!

“I was surprised we got away so easily, there’s usually a big fight for the early break but riders know that the early break isn’t going to make it — and it’s a long way to Sanremo.

“It was nice to be at the head of affairs in a race of that stature.

“The game plan was to stay ahead over La Manie, hoping that one of our Saxo Bank team leaders would come up in a small group and I’d be in a position to help them.

“But Tosatto, Kroon and Sorensen were all delayed in crashes.

“A team like ours needs luck in Milan-Sanremo; if you have stronger riders then you need less luck.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael drives the break. Photo©Ale Federico

How long were you away for?

“I made it 239 K.

“We were caught in the town of Alessio — which is where I attended my first ever training camp as a young cyclist.

“The club I was in still goes there, every year — and just as we got caught, there were the guys from the club shouting for me!”

It was very fast, early on, I believe?

“Yes, there was a tailwind and that – coupled with the flat parcours – made it fast.

“But for the 60/70 K before the Turchino pass it was a head wind, which killed us in the break, we had to use up a lot of energy.

“But it was a pretty good break; no one was trying to play poker or being a smart ass.

“Sometimes in a break like that you get guys who mess around — but not on Saturday.”

What did your SRMs say at the end?

“I averaged 240 watts for the seven hours I was on the bike — and it was a record day for burning kilojoules (calories): 6,200.”

You must have had to pack the food away?

“I stopped counting, I was just pushing everything in to my face — I had at least ten different bars, 10 or 15 gels and at least eight bottles.

“The good thing is that it’s easier to eat and drink in the break than it is in the peloton, where it’s much more nervous.”

Michael Mørkøv
Genoa, on the Ligurian coast, is beautiful, but Michael didn’t have much time to enjoy it.

It must be cool to see the Ligurian Sea as you drop down towards Genoa?

“It’s such a nice route, so classic, riding towards the sea and then along that beautiful coast road.

“To reach the sea was the first goal, than to get over la Manie — in the peloton there’s real stress on that climb.”

It’s probable you would have stayed away longer if Cavendish hadn’t been dropped La Manie?

“I’m pretty confident of that — the peloton had no reason to catch us so early.

“But when Cavendish and a couple of the other big names were dropped on La Manie you had QuickStep and BMC working hard to keep clear.

“It’s always the same on that climb — there’s a big fight for position and if there are splits and riders get dropped it goes crazy.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael (L) had ‘an easier day’ for nearly 240km, than if he was in the peloton. Photo©Ale Federico

It must be sore to lift it when the peloton arrives?

“When you’re in the break all day you become a diesel, chugging along at 250 watts — but when the bunch comes up you have to find more to stay in there.

“You’re not in the break to win the race, you’re doing a job — it would have been nice to stay away to the Capo Berta or the Cipressa.”

What are the Cipressa and Poggio like?

“To tell the truth, they’re not tough climbs, it’s when they come in the day and the speed they’re taken at.

“Actually, the three little climbs — which you might hardly notice on TV — which come before the Cipressa; the Capi Berta, Cervo and Mele all really hurt after that amount of time on the bike.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael tells us he threw it back, of course.

How do you recover from an effort like that?

“On Sunday, I went fishing with my team mates, Nicki Sorensen and Jonas Jorgensen — that was a nice recovery day.

“Today (Monday) I did three hours.

“On Wednesday I have Dwars door and then a full Northern Classic programme with Harelbeke, Wevelgem, Flanders, the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix.”

Michael will be keeping VeloVeritas abreast of his adventures on the hills and cobbles of Flanders and Northern France — so stay tuned for more exclusives, folks!

Milan - Sanremo 2012 Result

Result

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 6:59:24
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Radioshack-Nissan
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:02
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1T4I
6 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
7 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team
8 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team
9 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
11 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha Team
12 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team 0:00:12
13 Simon Geschke (Ger) Project 1T4I
14 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
15 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team 0:00:20
16 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
17 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team
18 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
19 Koen De Kort (Ned) Project 1T4I
20 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
21 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
22 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
23 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
24 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
25 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
26 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
27 Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
28 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
29 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
30 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling
31 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team
32 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
33 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
34 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
35 Francesco Reda (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
36 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
37 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
38 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team
39 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
40 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Greenedge Cycling Team
41 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
42 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
43 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – ISD
44 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox 0:00:31
45 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:05
46 Patxi Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Utensilnord Named 0:01:24
47 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
48 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:35
49 Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
50 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
51 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team
52 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 0:01:48
53 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat
54 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Radioshack-Nissan
55 José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
56 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
57 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
58 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre – ISD
59 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre – ISD
60 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
61 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
62 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
63 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
64 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
65 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank
66 Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
67 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
68 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin – Barracuda
69 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:02:20
70 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:41
71 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
72 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank
73 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:44
74 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank 0:03:23
75 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Team Type 1 – Sanofi 0:03:27
76 Rémi Cusin (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi 0:03:39
77 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:04:09
78 Grégory Rast (Swi) Radioshack-Nissan 0:04:44
79 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Radioshack-Nissan
80 Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
81 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin – Barracuda 0:05:37
82 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:37
83 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:07:43
84 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
85 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
86 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
87 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
88 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:09:28
89 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
90 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
91 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
92 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
93 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese V