Morkov accomplishes goal with Tour de France podium appearance
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Morkov accomplishes goal with Tour de France podium appearance

by Kyle Moore at 6:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Dane will try to hold onto polka dot jersey in the coming flatter days

Michael MorkovMichael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) set off on stage one with a goal in mind and crossed the finish line in Seraing having accomplished that goal, as the first king of the mountains in the Tour de France.

The Danish track rider is only the third Dane to ever wear the polka dots, after Mørkøv’s now director sportif Bjarne Riis, and Michael Rasmussen.

It was perhaps Mørkøv’s track background that helped him to grab the hotly contested first mountains jersey of the race. After getting into a six-man breakaway that also included Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Maxime Bouet (AG2R-La Mondiale), and Yohann Gene (Europcar), Mørkøv found himself in a battle with the Basque rider Urtasun for the points at the top of the four category-four climbs that the escape would hit first.

With fourth category climbs only offering one total point to the first rider to crest, scoring was at a premium, making Mørkøv’s jersey hard earned.

The Dane took the first climb but Urtasun got the second, with two remaining. On the third and fourth climbs, Mørkøv let Urtasun lead toward the top, monitoring the Spaniard whilst keeping an eye on the four riders behind. With the jersey on the line, Urtasun opened the sprint each time, but each time Mørkøv was able to cover and counter and hit the top first.

After grabbing his third point on the fourth climb of the day, Urtasun could do nothing except offer a handshake, which Mørkøv accepted with a smile for the cameras. The 27-year-old spoke about his day after receiving his polka dot jersey.

“It was a huge experience to be standing on the podium in the biggest race in the world, and I’m immensely proud of that achievement,” Mørkøv lauded at the finish. “I knew I had to go from the start of the stage in order to follow through, and it takes both luck and persistence. During the stage, I felt in control of the sprints with the exception of the second climb where I made a mistake, but on the final two climbs I didn’t take any chances.

“Tomorrow there’s a flat stage where we’ll probably be supporting JJ Haedo for the sprint, but the day after tomorrow I’ll do whatever I can to defend my jersey.”

With his understated team likely to struggle to pull in many accolades throughout the Tour, team director Dan Frost knew that Mørkøv’s achievement was valuable, and could possibly serve to further motivate the rest of his squad. Frost was especially pleased with his rider’s determination.

“It’s quite impressive how Michael has been aiming for the jersey and then just launches away from the gun and takes his prize in a series of superb sprint performances. Now he can even hold onto it for two stages as there’s only one mountain point tomorrow,” Frost said. “Hopefully this will have a positive effect on the rest of his team-mates and open their eyes to the opportunities lying ahead of us.”

With only one point on offer tomorrow, Mørkøv is in good standing with three points, to Urtasun’s one. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) also has one point, by virtue of winning the stage on the final climb of the day.

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