Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsMichael Mørkøv - "Winning the Danish Champion’s Jersey Again was beautiful"

Michael Mørkøv – “Winning the Danish Champion’s Jersey Again was beautiful”

"They have all this young talent on the Quickstep team and they need someone to guide them – I showed up at the right time!"


Michael Mørkøv
Michael Mørkøv.

He’s a versatile man that Michael Mørkøv; world champion on the track, Grand Tour stage winner, Cobbled Classics breakaway specialist, Six Day vedette, Danish Elite Road Race Champion, Classic podium finisher – and now…

And now – arguably the best lead-out man in the business; right hand man to the man with the most successes this year, QuickStep’s rapid Italian Elite Road Race Champion  Elia Viviani, with 17 winner’s bouquets in 2018 so far, including the final stage of the Vuelta in Madrid.

And both men are part of the mighty QuickStep machine which at time of writing was on 68 victories and counting, including Viviani’s three Vuelta stage wins.

We caught up with Michael on the Vuelta’s second rest day – 24 hours after the mighty Lagos de Covadonga stage.

Some nice work with Elia, Michael congratulations – how was Covadonga?

“It’s not something I would usually say about a climb but it was a very nice experience.

“The surface was good, it was a good length and the changes of gradient make it an ideal place for the pure climbers – lots of opportunities for them to launch attacks.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael and Elia Viviani celebrate another lead out/sprint victory. Photo©PhotoGomezSport

And what did you do on the rest day?

“Just a small ride, one hour to turn the legs.

“There are only two Danes riding the race, just me and my young QuickStep team mate, Kasper Asgreen so we get a lot of attention from the Danish TV and newspapers which we have to deal with.”

You were always a man who was into your equipment and clothing – your Danish champion’s jersey looks great with those black shorts.

“Yes, my national champion’s jersey and Elia Viviani’s too look great with black shorts.

“Our sponsors have been fantastic; DeFeet provided Elia and me with custom national champion socks, for example.

“Specialized too have been superb, colour-coordinating my shoes and my helmet, and Ekoi (our sunglasses sponsor) supplied custom versions as well.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael ranks his second National Championship five years after his first as one of his best wins. Photo©Nils Meilvang/Ritzau

My mentor Viktor thinks that you’ve fitted into QuickStep beautifully, maybe your best ever ‘fit’ with a team?

“I have the same feeling; there were plus and minus points at Katusha but I do really feel like I fit in here – and having Elia on such good form helps, obviously.

“I was lucky that they needed someone like me who is experienced and not afraid to take responsibility.

“They have all this young talent on the team and they need someone to guide them – I showed up at the right time!”

You’ve quickly formed a great bond with Elia.

“Absolutely, right from the start at the Tour Down Under [where Viviani won Stage Three, ed.]

“We knew each other from track racing and on the road but we quickly built a good understanding.

“We have the same ideas and approach about our jobs – Elia is perhaps the most dedicated rider I’ve met, he’s very serious about his sport and profession.”

What’s been the hi-lite of the season for you?

“It’s been great to be a part of the team’s successes this year but I have to say that winning the Danish Champion’s jersey again was beautiful.

“It’s difficult to win a national championship, they can be very tactical and there was just me and Kasper from QuickStep; so to win ahead of all the great young talent Denmark has right now was pretty special – I was very proud to win again.”

[Michael also won the title in 2013, the year he won a Vuelta stage and was second in Paris-Tours, ed.]

When Tom Boonen retired fans of the team were worried that the QuickStep ‘talisman’ was gone – but the team has actually won more races than ever.

“When I joined some folks were thinking that with so many of the ‘heavy duty’ guys gone things would be difficult, not just Tom Boonen as you say, but also Marcel Kittel, Tony Martin, Matteo Trentin, Gianluca Brambilla…

“But there’s so much amazing young talent on the team that we’ve had this great year.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael in action at the Tour de Romandie. Photo©GettyImages

Tell us about working with Patrick Lefevre.

“When it comes to letting riders go and bringing new ones on board he’s the best, not just this year but every year – look at the guys he’s developed; as well as the winners there’s top domestiques too.

“Patrick is one of the best managers I’ve ever worked with; we all have a lot of respect for him but he’s a very friendly, open man… easy to speak to.

“He’s always there at the races, an easy guy to be around.”

Who coaches you these days?

“I have a coach on the team, Koen Pelgrim.

“I’ve had a few coaches during my career and it’s always exciting to see what ideas a new coach will bring.

“From day one we had a good understanding, he knew that I was an experienced rider and didn’t give me schedules to stick to or anything like that but we have good discussions about new ideas and methods.”

And are you still living in Copenhagen?

“Yes, that works really well.

“I miss living in Lucca in Tuscany with the quiet roads and the good weather but whilst I have a little traffic on the way out of Copenhagen it’s good for training and all I need is there.”

Now that you have a young family it must be hard to be away from home?

“Absolutely – in the past I used to love being away for weeks on end at races and going from one training camp to the next but now I have to think about my wife and all the hard works she does with our kids when I’m away at a three week Tour or a training camp. It’s definitely harder to leave home now.”

What’s the agenda after the Vuelta?

“It’s pretty much my last race on the road for this season, I’m going to the track to try and qualify for the madison at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“The UCI rules are complicated now, we have to ride track races to qualify for the World Cups so as we can then qualify for The Games.

“I’ll be riding the madison in a track meeting at Bordeaux in a fortnight with Lasse Norman [Danish professional who was with the ill-fated Aqua Blue team until recently; winner of the Olympic omnium in 2012 and was bronze medallist in 2016 behind Viviani – he might well have won had he not ridden a disastrous elimination where he was one of the first out, ed.)] to try to qualify for the World Cup in Paris on October 21st.”

Will we be seeing you in the Six Days?

“I would love to ride Gent but it’s difficult to fit it in with my road programme – I think I’ll probably only ride my home Six at Copenhagen – that fits in nicely with the road programme.”

Michael Mørkøv
Michael follows Viviani at the Vuelta on their disc-equipped Specialized’s. Photo@LaVuelta

And you being ‘an equipment man’ I have to ask; what’s your opinion on the disc brakes that the team is running this year?

“I love them, they work really well and Shimano have altered the shifters so the hoods are almost like those for rim brakes, they’re very comfortable.

“The discs do an amazing job of stopping you, especially in the wet – and with the Specialized Tarmac and Venge frames specifically designed for discs they have very neat, clean lines, with everything integrated.”

Final question, what’s still on the Michael Mørkøv ‘to do’ list?

“An Olympic gold medal in the madison in Tokyo.”

You heard it here first, we wish Michael all the best with his ambition.

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.

Related Articles

The VeloVeritas Years – 2010: Barredo First to Lagos de Covadonga

VeloVeritas's soothsayer Viktor would say; 'It's just a big hill!' But if you've ever been up at the Lagos de Covadonga then you'll know there's much more to it than that. High on the bleak moor which is skirted by the parcours, back in the year 722 AD the Asturian King, Pelagius defeated the hitherto invulnerable Moors (Arabs we'd call them now) who ruled Spain at that time at the Battle of Covadonga.

On The Road in Vigo at La Vuelta a España 2007

Here we are at the start of this year's Vuelta a España in the Galician Town of Vigo - if you don't know where that is, its on the most westerly coast at the most northern bit, just above Portugal, in fact it's only 30 kilometers from Portugal.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 20: Faisanera Golf – Bola del Mundo 170.7 km

The rain stings past the entrance to the ski lift at 45 degrees and tries its damnedest to puncture the metal sheets on the roof; thunder roars in and echoes around the concrete walls, lightning sparks across the dark sky, the air temperature has dropped from a pleasant Spanish summer's afternoon to January on Porty Prom. Welcome to the Bola del Mundo; they say it's the toughest climb in European cycling - we believe it. We've been up to Covadonga a time or two and the Angliru, plus most of the Giro and Tour 'biggies', but this is evil.

La Vuelta 2010, Stage 16 – VV Selects

The Vuelta starts in a few day's time and so in this week's 'VV Selects' we look back at our last day covering the race nine years ago, when the stage began in Gijón. We conducted the now-popular 'chat at the team buses' to hear some thoughts from DS's Gert-Jan Theunisse, Dimitri Konyshev, Hendrik Redant and Rik Van Slycke, and various riders such as on-form Carlos Barredo, Greg Van Avermaet and the late Wouter Weylandt.

Is La Vuelta too hard?

La Vuelta; have you seen the parcours? Brutal! In my opinion, too hard; if it was Italy or Spain they'd engineer it to suit the characteristics of the 'home boy,' but in España it's one for the mountain men - maybe they forgot that Alberto wasn't riding; that we may have seen the best of Carlos; that Valverde will have a bad day and that José Manuel Fuente and Luis Ocaña have left us (God rest their souls).

Life and La Vuelta ’08 – According to Fabian Jeker

Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.

At Random

Life and La Vuelta ’08 – According to Fabian Jeker

Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.

La Vuelta 2019 – Our Final Review

We look back at the final five stages of the Vuelta 2019, a great race with hardly a dull moment which saw the emergence of yet more tremendously talented youngsters.

Evan Oliphant – British Points Race Silver Medallist

We caught up with Evan after he secured another medal at the British level, this time on the track in the Points Race Championship. Read on to hear Evan's thoughts on his achievement, and whether he's coming back to race on the grass too...

Michael Mørkøv – “Flanders Was Nice, Wevelgem and Dwars Door were Hell!”

We thought it would be good to speak to a man who was in the thick of the action at the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, across those cruel cobbles and over the brutal bergs. Step forward Saxo-Tinkoff’s Michael Mørkøv; team pursuit flyer, Six Day star, polka dot jersey wearer in the Tour de France, and Classics escape artist.

Only One Left (TDF 2012 St 16)

We have had the next big mountain stage, and for Wiggo, there is only one left. Only one more day where he will be threatened, and only one more man who is a threat. Sadly, Cadel Evans’ shot at back to back Tour victories is done and dusted, if it wasn’t already. On a truly massive day, where an enormous break got away early in the stage, the defending champ was in trouble on the earliest climbs, and only worsened through the day. TDF 2012 St 16

Gary Wiggins – a Legend with a Tragic End

The late Gary Wiggins’ sister Glenda Hughes, took to social media recently to remind us that some 13 years have passed since the big Australian died under mysterious circumstances. Wiggins had many sides – depending on how you knew him – which prompted us to re-run our review of his European glory to tragic end.