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Michael Mørkøv – on not being allowed to ride La Vuelta a España

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Dozens of SMS and emails flash up on my BlackBerry each day, most are chaff and get deleted after a quick glance — but when one comes in to tell me that ‘Michael Mørkøv excluded from the Vuelta by WADA’ that makes me take notice.

There’s only one thing to do — call the man himself.

Michael Mørkøv
Michael rides the TT at the Giro.

What’s the story, Michael?

“It’s really frustrating; the team have to submit a list of 15 potential riders for the race, 20 days before it starts – but I’m not on it.

[This is to allow closer scrutiny of the riders who may be lining up; the thought process being that some riders ‘prepare’ for the race before it and not actually during it.]

“I wasn’t originally considered for the Vuelta squad but then I produced good performances in Limousin and Plouay and was selected to replace Baden Cooke when he was injured.”

An administrative error?

“Yes, but I don’t blame the team, they’ve done everything they can to get me in the race, talking to WADA and the UCI, but it’s no good.

“It’s really frustrating because I’ve always been a rider who takes a very strong stance against drugs and I’m a little worried that people may get the wrong idea about why I’m not getting to ride.”

When did you find out?

“My sport director, Bradley McGee told me this morning, I’m here in Seville and was out training with the rest of the team this morning — I fly home to Luxembourg, tomorrow.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael has been World Track Champion.

Will the team start with one man short, then?

“Hopefully not, Kasper Klostergaard was on the list and they’re trying to get him down here in time for the start so they’ll have nine riders.”

You were going so well in Limousin and Plouay.

“Yes, since I finished the Giro and recovered from it, I feel like I have moved up a level.

“In Limousin I was third in the bunch sprint on stage one, then seventh in the stage two time trial, sixth on stage four and finished fourth on GC, but obviously I also had to work for Gustav Larrson who was leading for us after the time trial and eventually won the GC.

“In Plouay I got my timing wrong for the sprint but still managed 12th — my shape is good and I was looking forward to using that to good effect at the Vuelta.”

What now?

“I hope to ride the two UCI races in Canada and maybe the Tour of Britain — and I’m hoping to ride the Worlds in Melbourne.

“If I am selected to ride the Worlds then that will be my main focus.”

And will we see you on the Six Day boards over the winter?

“Alex [Rasmussen] and I have spoken to Bjarne and we will ride at least the three we won last year — Gent, Berlin and Copenhagen.

“It’s possible that we may ride Zurich and Rotterdam but it depends upon our commitment to team training camps.”

Are you staying with Bjarne for 2011?

“I was never too concerned about the future with Riis Cycling, I always had the feeling that there would be new sponsors and the team would continue.

“I’ve signed with the team for another two years and when I did that I told Bjarne that the two years I have spent with the team have been the happiest of my cycling life — I enjoy every day.

“There were other teams which approached — and that was nice – but I was very happy to re-sign with Bjarne.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael and Alex are very happy with Riis.

You’ll be teammates with a three time Tour winner in 2011.

“I’ve ridden with big riders here — Fabian and the Schleck brothers — but I’m really looking forward to riding with Alberto.

“He’s won three Tours so there’s no doubt that he’s a dedicated professional and there will be a lot I can learn from him.

“I’m not sure that our programmes will overlap that much but I hope to ride at least a few races with him and do a job for him.”

Do the big names have time for a young pro?

“Oh yes!

“The Schleck brothers and Fabian have always been nice to me and very helpful — just today Frank Schleck was making phone calls to his contacts to see if we could get me into the race.

“The guys at Saxo are all good guys – it’s a very friendly atmosphere on the team and that includes all the big riders.

“And I’ve already met Alberto, he came over to talk to me at the criterium in Denmark which we rode together — he was very friendly.”

Will you and Alex be riding the Track Worlds?

“No, we have decided that the Worlds in Copenhagen this year were the last we will ride for a while – we want to concentrate on the Spring Classics.”

The big one — the Tour, is it a possibility?

“It’s every rider’s dream to ride the Tour and of course I think about it.

“Last year it may have seemed unrealistic, but after the Giro and the way I’ve been riding recently, I think it’s a possibility.”

We think so too; with thanks to Michael and wishing him all the best in his quest for Worlds selection — we think he’ll make it.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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