Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeInterviewsMichael Mørkøv - Early Tour de France King of the Mountains

Michael Mørkøv – Early Tour de France King of the Mountains

-

Men of the Tour, thus far ? Wiggins, definitely; Sagan, for sure; Greipel, yes – and Michael Mørkøv.

The Danish ex-World Madison Champion and Six Day star’s stage one breakaway to grab the polka dot jersey and his defence of it for the first week was one of the talking points of the race.

Not content with taking all the available points on stage one, he joined the break on stages two and three to make the jersey his own until the stage to La Planche des Belles Filles where the ‘bigs’ decided to fight it out.

We caught up with him on the rest day at the team hotel in Mâcon.

Michael Mørkøv
Michael has had a tremendous start to his first Tour. Photo©Martin Williamson

Congratulations, Michael – you’ve been the king of the breakaways, this year.

“Before the Tour, a guy in Belgium worked out that I had been in the breakaway for 1600 kilometres – but it’ll be much more, now.

“I was in the break on stage two of Paris-Nice, then in the Milan-Sanremo I was in the break for much of the day.

“I was in the break in Dwars Door, E3 – took a rest in Gent-Wevelgem – then was away again in Roubaix.

“I had a little time off after the Classics and took time to renovate my apartment in Copenhagen.”

And you took the bronze medal in the recent Danish TT championship.

“I’m not a real specialist but I’m decent – and I like the fast equipment, I get excited about riding it.

“I can concentrate for a time trial and it’s always a goal to get a medal in the Danish championship.”

Sebastian Lander won the Danish elite road championships – that was a surprise.

“It was a big surprise, that was the hardest parcours ever for the championships; it went up a very tough climb, 20 times – there was 3,000 metres of climbing.

“It poured with rain for every one of the 200 kilometres and the temperature was down to 12 degrees – I was just frozen by the end.

“Lander didn’t used to be dedicated but you can see he’s more serious, this year – so maybe it’s not that big a surprise.”

Le Tour, is it as big as it seems?

“When we arrived at the race hotel on Wednesday evening, you could just see that this race is different to all the others.

“We have two extra soigneurs, two more mechanics and another two directors.

“The sponsors were here in force – Specialized, SRAM and so many press.

“The Tour is very big in Denmark; six or seven newspapers follow the race and each has between one and three journalists.

“And there are two Danish TV channels here.

“With us having four Danes on the team they spend a lot of time around us.

“It’s all great publicity for the team.

“They don’t have the pre-race health checks any more, that’s all done within the teams.

“I remember when I was a kid looking at the pictures of the guys getting their checks done – you could tell who had the best condition by how skinny they were!”

What difference has Tinkoff coming aboard made to the team.

“When it was announced that Alberto Contador had signed for three-and-half years that made me realise that Bjarne Riis was committed to taking the team back to the top of the World Tour.

“And then when I heard about the Tinkoff sponsorship that confirmed to me that the team will be strong and around for a long time.

“I liked our original jersey, this year – but I’m getting used to the new one.

“I’ve not met Mr. Tinkov but he seems like a cool guy – he talks with enthusiasm for cycling, not just about his investment.

“He’s promised me a platinum Tinfoff credit card for having the jersey for the week!”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael has enjoyed the rest day, and having two nights in the same hotel has helped. Photo©Martin Williamson

Tell us about your prologue.

“I focussed on it, had maximum power showing on my SRM, felt good on my time trial bike and finished 61st!

“It’s a sign of how seriously people take the Tour – usually I’d be top 20 in a prologue.”

The King of the Mountains bid, was it planned?

“Yes, but not months before; when I got the race manual I could see that the first stage suited me.

“The climbs were one or one-and-a-half kilometres long; that suited me – and I have a good sprint, not like the pure sprinters but good enough to win the points.

“On stage one everyone was a little nervous, there were just the right number in the break and it worked well.

“On day two no one wanted to go and there was just one point on offer.

“I was in two minds whether to go, but all the little points add up.

“I asked Bjarne if I could go, he said to wait – then two French guys took off.

“I asked Nicki Sorensen – he’s our road captain, he’s ridden ten Tours – he said to make my own decision.

“So I went right after them, the French guys weren’t interested in the point, I got it then did a bit of sitting on and when we were caught, I helped pull for JJ Haedo in the sprint.

“On day three it was more difficult to get in the break – I have a secret for how I get into the breaks that are good, but I can’t tell you!”

Michael Mørkøv
Gaining a lot of publicity for the team and their sponsors, Michael has been on the Tour podium a lot in this first week.

Does the polka dot jersey get you respect in the bunch?

“For sure, not from the point of view of fighting for position – they don’t even move for Wiggins, Cancellara or Evans.

“But the big guys show respect, a lot of guys congratulated me on taking the jersey – and Evans came alongside me in the peloton and said; ‘it shows what you can do with good legs and a good brain.’

“That was nice.”

How has media interest been?

“When I took the jersey on the Sunday it was a big deal in Denmark, it just exploded – the Tour is big in Denmark and the media went bananas.

“I was like a national hero, on the front page of the newspapers – that’s usually just for politicians and football players!

“As the week went on there was more and more media interest not only from Denmark but from other countries and by Saturday I had international interest.”

You must have been sad to let the jersey go?

“Not really, there was no point in fighting to keep it, I knew it wouldn’t be mine when the big climbs arrived.

“I thought maybe I could get it back on stage 8 but that went bananas for the first 80 K and when the break went there were big riders in it.

“But I can’t think of any other track riders who’ve held the king of the mountains jersey in the Tour!”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael is getting used to this! Photo©Ed Hood

Have you had many requests for the jerseys?

“A lot of requests!

“Luckily, I got a few each day, short and long sleeve.

“I’ll give a few to friends and family – but I’m definitely keeping the one with the red dossard as most aggressive rider on it.”

How did you tackle the time trial?

“I went hard, I felt good, I had good legs but I finished in the 60’s.

“I still have more shots in my gun but it’s mentally hard to lose five minutes to Wiggins.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael punctures, but no real drama for him in this first week.

How was your rest day?

“It was a really nice day, yesterday was a short day so we were at the hotel early.

“Today we had a press meet at 10:00 then a ride to a nice cafe – I had a cake, but only small! – then we had lunch, more interviews, massage then we worked with our ‘body science’ guy.

“His treatment is different from the soigneurs, he goes deeper, opening up your stomach and chest.”

What about all the crashes?

“I’ve been pretty lucky, I’ve missed them, despite participating in the sprints for JJ.

“I think the race was more crazy last year but there was that big crash on the descent, this year.

“Part of the problem is that all of the GC guys want to have their whole team of eight guys around them at the front – if it was a couple of riders that would be fine – but there’s just not enough space for everyone.”

Michael Mørkøv
Nicki Sorensen has a ‘shrink-wrapped’ left calf, helping the healing process. Photo©Martin Williamson

You’ve ridden two Giros, how does it compare?

“This is bigger – different, the Giro is huge in Italy but there’s so much more attention paid to the Tour.

“If you get in a break in the Giro, it’s good – but when you’re in the break in the Tour, it’s amazing!

“Nicki Sorensen has ridden ten Tours, and he says this is one of the easiest first weeks he’s experienced – it’s been fast but I’m in good shape and I’ve not been in big trouble.

“I’m looking forward to the next week!”

With thanks to Michael for his time and patience, we hope to talk to him again, on the second rest day.

Listen to some of the interview with Michael;

Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed Hood and Martin Williamson
Ed and Martin, our top team! They try to do the local Time Trials, the Grand Tours and the Classics together to get the great stories written, the quality photos taken, the driving done and the wifi wrestled with.

Related Articles

Le Tour de France 2010, Second Rest Day

'How's it goin' Shane?' we ask Skyman Shane Sutton as we cross the car park in search of Michael Barry for a rest day interview at the Le Tour de France 2010. 'Been better, mate!' he fires back between hard draws on his fag - it's difficult for a man who wears his heart on his sleeve to 'spin.'

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 8: Andorre-la-Vieille > Saint-Girons, 176.5km

Clever and strong, Luis Leon Sánchez won this afternoon in Stage 8 from Andorre-la-Vieille into Saint-Girons, adding this to his win at Paris-Nice earlier this year.

Le Tour de France 2015 – Stage 20; Modane Valfréjus – Alpe d’Huez

We didn't want any slip ups on 'le jour d'Alpe' so we were offski early to make sure we were on the parcours in plenty of time. Trouble is that we were on the road before the routing crews and had a wee bit of mucking around before we picked up the parcours. One mitigating factor was that we stumbled on Oleg out for a run, complete with bodyguard/training partner and team car.

Mini Liege (hopefully no 2010 repeat): Stage 1

The first road stage has started! Touted as a mini Liege Bastogne Liege, the course covers many of the same roads as the race known as La Doyenne, one of the single day Classics known as a Monument. The last time these roads were tackled at the Tour was in 2009, easily the worst working day of my Sports Physio career - I was working for the Garmin team at the time.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 9; Gérardmer – Mulhouse, 166 km. Tony Martin Solo

Patrick Lefevre said today it was one of the greatest performances he has ever seen; Tony Martin fought for more than an hour to establish a gap of 30 seconds and then go away from the second group of 25 riders with the whole Europcar team trying to get him back. Remember that Lefevre has been one of the most respected managers in the sport for two decades and isn’t prone to throwing praise around.

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 21: Montereau-Fault-Yonne > Paris Champs-Élysées, 164km

Bonjour! The start starts today in Montereau-Fault-Yonne, but we're not there. Usually I start the VeloVeritas diary for Le Tour de France 2009 in the morning but then have to switch to 'other work' mode for most of the day - going back to poor old VV late in the day, as Martin and I fight off le vieux homme Morpheus.

At Random

Shay O’Hanlon – Irish Rás Multi-Record Holder

Ireland’s ‘Rás,’ a cult bike race; Marcin Bialoblocki, Tony Martin, Stephen Roche and Scotland’s own Jamie McGahan number among the GC winners. So who’s...

Fedor Den Hertog – Amateur Colossus, Rest In Peace

Less than a month after the death of Peter Post, Dutch cycling has lost another of its 'Greats' with the news that Fedor Den Hertog succumbed on Saturday 12th February, after a long battle with illness. For anyone involved in cycle sport in the late 60's and early 70's, amateur Den Hertog's name was as well known as any of the top professionals.

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon, 191km. Trentin Takes It

Winner today: Trentin, Quote of the day: this comes from a gentleman of Ivan’s acquaintance; ‘It's not fair what Contador did to Froome, using his team like that in the wind.’ Damned Johnny Foreigner – no wonder they don’t play cricket.

Rik Van Linden – One of the 70’s Fastest Men

The word ‘legend’ is over used these days; but today we bring you an interview with a man who firmly deserves the title – Mr. Rik Van Linden of Belgium.

Roddy Riddle – Taking on the Marathon des Sables, the 6633 Ultra, and Beyond

We were chatting about the Scottish Hour Record the other day and it got us to thinking about Roddy Riddle’s 1995 ride of 46.570 which broke Graeme Obree’s 1990 ride of 46.390 - and lasted one year until Jim Gladwell established the current best of 46.650 in 1996. ‘What’s Roddy up to now?’ we mused - the last we heard he was running across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables. Transpires he’s participating in the 6633 Ultra. The what? Best ask him...

Patrick Galbraith – Kerry Youth Tour Winner

It was a good week for Scottish cycling, in the same week that David Millar (Saunier Duval) won the British elite road race title; at the other end of the spectrum, 14 year-old Patrick Galbraith took two stage wins and the overall win in Eire's Kerry Youth Tour. The Kerry Youth Tour is one of the largest events of its kind in the world; comprising four stages over three days - two road races, a circuit race and a time trial.