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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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 Vini – Selle Italia
94 Baden Cooke (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team
95 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
96 Paolo Bailetti (Ita) Utensilnord Named
97 Juan Pablo Suarez Suarez (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
98 Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank
99 Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin – Barracuda
100 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:14:39
101 Frederico Rocchetti (Ita) Utensilnord Named 0:15:54
102 Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia 0:17:04
103 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol Team 0:20:18
104 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
105 Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin – Barracuda
106 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
107 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin – Barracuda
108 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
109 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Barracuda
110 Robert Wagner (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan
111 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Radioshack-Nissan
112 David Millar (GBr) Garmin – Barracuda
113 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
114 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin – Barracuda
115 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team
116 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Radioshack-Nissan
117 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
118 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol Team
119 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
120 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
121 Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
122 Oleg Berdos (Mda) Utensilnord Named
123 Juan Pablo Forero Carreno (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
124 Filippo Baggio (Ita) Utensilnord Named
125 Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
126 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
127 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
128 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
129 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
130 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
131 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
132 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
133 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
134 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
135 Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
136 Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
137 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
138 Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1T4I
139 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Project 1T4I
140 Cheng Ji (Chn) Project 1T4I
141 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol Team
142 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
143 Diego Caccia (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
144 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
145 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:23:02
146 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
147 Marco Coledan (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
148 Gianluca Maggiore (Ita) Utensilnord Named
149 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
DNF Stuart O’grady (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team
DNF Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Greenedge Cycling Team
DNF Svein Tuft (Can) Greenedge Cycling Team
DNF Matthew Wilson (Aus) Greenedge Cycling Team
DNF Claudio Corioni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Fabio Taborre (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Franck Osorio (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
DNF Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
DNF Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
DNF Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia – Coldeportes
DNF Marco Canola (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
DNF Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
DNF Paolo Locatelli (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
DNF Angelo Pagani (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
DNF Filippo Savini (Ita) Colnago – Csf Inox
DNF Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
DNF Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
DNF Gabriel Rasch (Nor) FDJ-Big Mat
DNF Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha Team
DNF Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team
DNF Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
DNF Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre – ISD
DNF Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
DNF Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre – ISD
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team
DNF Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Project 1T4I
DNF Roger Kluge (Ger) Project 1T4I
DNF Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNF Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNF Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNF Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling
DNF Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling
DNF Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNF Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
DNF Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNF Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
DNF David Tanner (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
DNF Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) Utensilnord Named
DNF Matteo Fedi (Ita) Utensilnord Named
DNF Daniele Colli (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
DNF Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Type 1 – Sanofi