One of the men of the Classics Season this year has been Saxo Bank’s Danish star Michael Mørkøv.
He was away for 240 kilometres in the Primavera – it would have been longer but for the ‘mad breenge’ in the peloton to make sure Cav didn’t get back after his crisis on La Manie.
Mørkøv repeated the trick in the Hell of the North, riding 120 kilometres in the ‘escape of the day.’
But inbetween times he also enlivened Dwars door Vlaanderen and was well in with a stab at the podium until QuickStep reminded everyone that they’re not just about Tom Boonen – they’re all a cut above in 2012.
What was the Saxo Bank plan for Dwars Door, Michael?
“We wanted one man in the break and then we’d try to get other riders to bridge across.
“But it took a while for the break to go and we’d all used up a lot of energy to get in it.
“We’d done two hours of racing at nearly 50 km/h when 13 of us got clear on the first of the climbs and took a minute.
“The Omega Pharma-QuickSteps countered with Chavanel and Terpstra – they bridged up to us on the Haaghoek cobbles.
“On the Berendries climb the group split and there was just Chavanel, Terpstra, Lloyd Mondory (AG2R), Maarten Wynants (Rabobank), Vincent Jerome (Europcar), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) – and me.
“I began to think about a sprint for the podium places, but then Vanmarcke and Pozzato and the others came up and the shape of the race changed.
“I finished in 15th in the end.”
This must all be good experience for you, Michael.
“You’re learning all the time, you can look at as many maps and race manuals you want, but it’s like riding madisons – you need to get these races into your bones.”
Do you do specific training for the cobbles and/or bergs?
“Not really, I just do my usual hard training which is designed to try and get me to the top of my profession.
“As I go on and identify that I have a ‘speciality,’ then I’ll begin to train more for that.”
With Nick Nuyens and Alberto Contador out of the sport, you must have more freedom within the team?
“It’s not just about ‘freedom’ – I had that even with Nick and Alberto.
“This year I’m desperately motivated to do well for the team.
“I’m Danish, this is a Danish team, it’s in my heart and I want to do well for it – missing Nick and Alberto hasn’t been good for our team palmares so I want to show the jersey as best I can.”
How is Nick progressing after his fractured hip?
“He’s only at the walking stage, it’ll take a while – we hope he’ll be back for the Tour.”
Which bike are you riding for these races, Michael?
“I’m riding my usual Specialized SL 4 with Zipp 404 or 303 wheels, the latter are still aero but stronger and give a great ride on 25mm tubulars.”
Your lack of a heavy winter track programme seems to have worked well.
“I’ve been thinking about that.
“I think that maybe I’m hungrier this year because I didn’t race much over the winter.
“If you ride the Six Days then you gain form and go to a high level of fitness; but really what’s best for the road is a long, steady build up to the season.
“I had that over the winter and it’s worked well for me.”
Is the Olympic team pursuit still something you think about?
“Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Danes go at the Worlds (the Danes rode to a disappointing 7th in qualification with a 4:03) and I hope to attend team pursuit training camps in May and June.
“The team is coached by Casper Jorgensen who was one of the team members when we were winning Worlds and Olympic medals – he’s doing a good job and we talk regularly.”
The Giro starts in Denmark; that must be a big incentive for you?
“It would be really nice to ride the Giro in Denmark but my schedule is to ride the Tour and Olympics, this year.”
You must have a lot of time on your hands between races?
“Yes, because we race so much we don’t train hard much – it’s more like two hour recovery rides.
“Massage and meals take up time, but the weeks are long.
“But it’s a really important part of the season for us, and we have to be based here for the duration of the Classics season.
“I relax, watch TV and am reading the Da Vinci Code – that takes up a lot of time.”
And for the GP E3?
“For Harelbeke I’ll try to get in the break again – you have to get ahead of the situation!”
Michael did indeed make it into the break but still had enough left in his legs to take 13th in the mad Boonen/Freire/Eisel lead charge in to Harelbeke.
After Roubaix we asked Michael what the next phase of his season holds:
“I have the GP Denain in France on Thursday and then a good break until the end of May, when I ride the Tour of Norway.
“The first part of my season is almost over now so I’ll wind down a little, then ramp back up for the start of the summer part of my season.
“I did the best I could with 13th in the E3 and 15th in Dwars Door – and just a little disappointment that I could have had a better Tour of Flanders.”
The VeloVeritas bet is that next season will see Michael’s best in the Spring Classic be even better.
Result - Dwars Door Vlaanderen
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:47
3 Koen De Kort (Ned) Project 1t4i
4 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:51
5 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:53
6 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia 0:01:00
7 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:05
8 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:16
9 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team
11 Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
12 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
13 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator 0:01:26
14 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
15 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Team Saxo Bank
16 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:03:06
17 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
18 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
19 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team
20 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
21 Saïd Haddou (Fra) Team Europcar
22 Michael Van Stayen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
23 Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Katusha Team
24 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
25 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar
26 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
27 Jonas Aaen Jorgensen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank
28 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
29 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech p/b C10
30 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
31 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
32 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
33 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
34 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
35 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
36 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
37 Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre – ISD
38 Nikolai Trusov (Rus) RusVelo
39 Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp
40 Maarten Neyens (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
41 Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp
42 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
43 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
44 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
45 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
46 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
47 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
48 Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
49 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
50 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
51 Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i
52 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha Team
53 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) An Post – Sean Kelly
54 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
55 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
56 Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Team Saxo Bank
57 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
58 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
59 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
60 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
61 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
62 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet
63 Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
64 Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky Procycling
65 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
66 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
67 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
68 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
69 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Cervelo
70 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
71 Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech p/b C10
72 Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling
73 Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
74 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Team NetApp
75 Troels Ronning Vinther (Den) Team Saxo Bank
76 Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale
77 Stuart O’grady (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
78 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
79 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team
80 Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
81 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
82 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
83 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
84 Cameron Wurf (Aus) Champion System Pro Cycling Team
85 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
86 Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech p/b C10
87 Timon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp
88 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
89 Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) RusVelo
90 Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs – Willems Veranda’s
91 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
92 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
93 Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
94 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
95 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
96 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
97 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team
98 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
99 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
100 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
101 Matthew Goss (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team
102 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
103 Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
104 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Cervelo
105 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:04:13