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Catching Up With Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov
It was after the Giro when we last spoke to Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov; just after he helped team mate Alberto Contador to a crushing victory. Since then he’s stood on the podium of his home tour and come very close to a stage win in Colorado. We spoke to the 26 year-old from Kokkedal on the eve of his flying to Canada for the UCi races in Quebec and Montreal – where he would actually win the one kilometre road sprints competition held on the eve of the Quebec race.

PEZ: How did you recover from the Giro, Michael?
Michael Morkov: I recovered well, I had good motivation to go on and ride the Tour de France – I was very careful with my diet and training but in the end I didn’t make the team for France.

It was 50/50 between me and another rider and he got the spot – next season, I hope.

Morkov held the lead at the Tour of Denmark for a little while, but couldn’t carry it through to the final podium. Next year, perhaps?

PEZ: The Tour of Denmark, third overall – a disappointment?
MM: Not really, it’s taken three years to get to where I am, now – ready to go for results in races like that.

But I was disappointed in the time trial; I thought I could do a ride there that would win me the race overall – but I only did an ‘OK’ time trial.

But I was pleased that I rode well on stage three to Vejle -which has the 21% climb on the finishing circuit – next year the Tour of Denmark will be a really big goal for me.

PEZ: You were close in Colorado too; Viviani just pipped you for stage four.
MM: That was a nice result; it was a flat stage with those long straight American roads, like in the movies, no corners at all.

I said to the team that I’d like to go for it and they gave me a perfect lead out; I had the power and the positioning – it was a drag race to the line but in the last 50 metres he just got the better of me.

The altitude makes it hard, I’ve ridden at altitude before, in the Qinghai Lakes but we had two weeks to acclimatise for that – for Colorado we were there only five days before.

The prologue was really difficult; with the distance being so short it was very hard.

We stayed on at Boulder after the race for a training camp so that’s made for great preparation for the Worlds.

Third at the Tour of Denmark behind Simon Gerrans and Daniele Bennati.

PEZ: Disappointing that Matti Breschel won’t be leading the Danish team at Copenhagen.
MM: Yes, I’ve been looking forward the whole year to trying to help Matti win the Worlds on our home soil.

It’s a big disappointment for me, I always enjoy racing with Matti.

PEZ: And is it really a sprinters’ course?
MM: There’s nothing like the hills there were in Australia, last year – the total elevation is maybe only 20/30 metres elevation each lap.

It’s technical and it could end in a sprint but it’s a fair drag up to the line and there’s no guarantee that it will be a ‘pure sprint’ at the finish.


PEZ: 2012 is Olympic year, what are your thoughts?
MM: Beijing 2008 when we won the silver medal in the team pursuit was one of the biggest experiences of my life.

I’d love to be part of the Danish team for the team pursuit, but it may be difficult to fit it in if I’m riding the Tour – that finishes just 10 days before the Olympics begin.

It depends on the Federation – but I’d be very happy to be part of the team.

I’d love to ride the Olympic road race but the qualification criteria is so complicated and it’ll be difficult to go if you’re in a Pro Tour team but not winning races.

PEZ: What does the rest of 2011 hold?
MM: After the Canadian race I have the Worlds then the Beijing Tour – after that it’s the team pursuit at the European track championships in Apeldoorn, we have to participate in that as a qualifying event for the Olympics.

Morkov took the win at the street sprints the day before the GP Quebec.

PEZ: The six days?
MM: For sure, I plan to ride Hannover, Berlin and Copenhagen – but I’ve not heard from the organisers, yet.

The other thing is that we’re not sure what Garmin are going to say about Alex’s participation in the six days (all of Alex Rasmussen future plans are now on ‘hold’ due to his suspension by the UCi and Danish Federation for breaches of protocol in connection with the ‘whereabouts’ system).

The unbeatable pairing of Morkov and Rasmussen might be in danger now following Rasmussen’s third breach of protocol in connection with the whereabouts system.

PEZ: What do you think about the demise of HTC?
MM: It wasn’t a shock, there will always be years when it’s hard to get sponsors – Bjarne Riis has been through that several times.

The end of HTC is bad for the sport; it was a good team – but the Leopard/Shack situation is also a bad one, there will be 28 guys now who need to find a contract.

It’s all very bad for cycling.

PEZ: And how’s Saxo for 2012?
MM: The sponsor situation is good but we’re not sure yet if there will be new additions to the team.

(The rumour mill has been churning out stories that Saxo may merge with Astana for 2012 – both teams being sponsored by Specialized)

PEZ: Your winter sounds very busy – are you able to fit a rest in?
MM: Yes, straight after Apeldoorn in October, my next race is Hannover, which isn’t until around Christmas time, so I’ll have from mid October until November and then I’ll start to prepare for the sixes.

It’s nice at home in Tuscany in November but it’s also good to go back up to Denmark to see friends and family.

PEZ: And how’s the Italian?
MM: That’s not really working that well, I’m afraid!


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