Michael Morkov Interview: Relishing home worlds experience in Denmark
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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Michael Morkov Interview: Relishing home worlds experience in Denmark

by Ed Hood at 7:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, World Championships
 
Saxo Bank SunGard rider satisfied with top 20 finish in race

Michael MorkovDenmark’s hopes of World’s Elite success last Sunday originally were to rest on the shoulders of Rabobank’s Matti Breschel; he was second behind Hushovd last year in Geelong and third behind Ballan in Varese in 2008.

But the hand injury he suffered in the Vuelta a España meant that the Rabobank 27 year-old from Faxe was destined not to make the start line.

Instead it fell to the men who would have been his captains on the day to fly the flag for the home nation.

The red and white squad made the breaks as the race entered the final stages, but there was only going to be one outcome once Bradley Wiggins settled into time trial mode at the head of the peloton for the last circuit.

The honour of being ‘best Danish rider’ fell to Saxo Bank’s former track world champion, Michael Morkov, who sprinted to 18th in the company of the world’s best.

Morkov 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.

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.

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.

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.

Morkov took time to talk to VeloNation as he prepared to leave for the Far East and the Tour of Beijing.

VeloNation: You placed 18th in the Worlds, Michael – were you happy with that?

Michael Morkov: Yes, very happy…top ten would have been beautiful but top twenty was my goal and I achieved that.

The thing is that when you’re not sprinting for the win it’s hard to have the motivation because the satisfaction isn’t the same.

VN: What was Denmark’s plan for the day?

MM: We rode with six captains, we all had a shot but at the same time we helped each other when we could.

We had guys in the breaks and I did what I could in the sprint.

VN: When did you realise it was going to be a sprint?

MM: You could feel from early in the race that it was going to be a sprint – it was always going to be hard for a break to succeed.

VN: You managed to avoid the crashes…

Michael MorkovMM: The reason I was fresh at the finish was that I took chances, sitting at the back.

When the big, late crash happened I was the last guy to pass the Frenchman who went down; I looked back and there was no one there – I had sweat on my brow!

VN: What did you think of the circuit?

MM: It was beautiful – it’s where I grew up.

I did my first ever training runs over those roads – the site of the one kilometre banner was where we used to meet the club to go on our runs.

It was an amazing experience, all of my family and friends were watching – I had unbelievable support.

Even a guy like Lars Bak - who has been a pro forever - turned to me during the race when we heard the crowd and said; ‘wow!’

VN: What about the heat?

MM: It was no problem, just a nice feeling – I think we must have help from above, the end of September in Denmark the weather can be so shitty; but that was probably the best day of the summer!

Maybe my late father had a hand in organising it?

VN: Was that your longest race, ever?

MM: No, I’ve ridden Milan-Sanremo which is nearly 300 kilometres. It wasn’t too hot but you had to drink a lot.

At six hours it’s shorter than some of the Giro stages but the worlds is a special race; everyone is so motivated for it that it’s very fast.

You have the national colours on your back and it’s hard to hold back.

VN: Tell us about your training for the race…

Michael MorkovMM: I live only ten kilometres from the course and I rode it many times behind the motorbike in the weeks before so as I could see what the parcours would be like at speed and so I didn’t have to think about where I was.

I rode Tour of Colorado [USA Pro Cycling Challenge] and then we had an altitude training camp followed by the Canadian races. They were both a bit like the Worlds; so I think my preparation was good.

VN: That last bend looked crazy…

MM: Yes, I was behind Sieberg and was held up by him, the lead out guys were falling back through the peloton and that made it dangerous – I actually expected two or three crashes in the last kilometres and particularly on that bend.

VN: How did you play the sprint?

MM: Anders Lund got me up to the front and then Lars Bak pulled in the last kilometre for me – it impressed me that he worked for me like that.

VN: How were the Danish media after the race?

MM: There were a lot of positive comments; the last couple of years we’ve been there to support Matti Breschel, but with his absence we had no captain – but we got in the breaks and showed the jersey.

VN: With hindsight, what are your thoughts?

MM: You can always think of things – but I can’t be unhappy to ride the Worlds on your home course and be in the top twenty.
 

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