Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Michael Mørkøv: The Pro’s Pro
Rider Interview: Michael Mørkøv is one of those rare beasts that can ride a full road season, including grand Tours and win on the indoor boards at the highest level. Ed Hood is an old ‘6 Days’ colleague of the great Dane and managed to have a word before the 2020 training starts.
A winning combination – Elia Viviani and Michael Mørkøv
The most versatile man in the peloton? Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Danish Champion, Michael Mørkøv has to be well in the running; he started the year with second place (his 11th podium in the race) in the Copenhagen Six Day, ‘taxi driving’ – as they term it when an experienced rider looks after an up and coming youngster – fellow Dane Oliver Wulff Fredriksen in this case.
Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen European madison championships 2019
Next up were The Tour Down Under, UAE Tour and Tirreno; a top 20 at De Panne; chaperoning Fabio Jakobsen to Scheldeprijs victory for the second time; the Tour of California; the Tour de Suisse, Tour de France, Tour of Slovakia and Worlds. Along the way he was instrumental in many of Elia Viviani’s sprint wins, he’s recognised as one of the best lead out men in the business; won his National Elite Road Race Championship for the third time, took third in the Ride London Classic – won by Viviani; was fifth in the European Road Race Championships; jumped back on his track bike and, with Lasse Norman Hansen won the recent European Madison Championship and then the Minsk World Cup Madison.
Euro champs – Mørkøv and Hansen
He’s just back from a two week family holiday before the hard work starts again with the build up to the World Madison Championship in Berlin on March 1st and another full road season. But took time to chat to his former six day runner – that’s me, folks.
PEZ: Congratulations on a great season, Michael – and especially your two big madison wins.
Michael Mørkøv: Thank you, Lasse Norman and I have good understanding, we’ve won the Copenhagen Six Day together on two occasions so we’re well used to each other.
European madison champion
PEZ: A question I’ve asked you before; isn’t it difficult to go from road racing into track racing at the very highest level?
Every time I make that change, I surprise myself. I expect not to be able to follow the wheels of the young guys and specialists but I’m still at that level. It must be down to experience and the core strength I have from all the road racing I’ve done. My road programme is a really good one with a lot of stage races but with proper recovery allowed. And, of course, when I go to ride the track I prepare very carefully.
PEZ: What did you do between The Road Worlds and The Europeans and Minsk?
When my road season ended after the World Championships in Harrogate I knew I had to keep in shape for another month with The Europeans and World Cup on my programme. I kept the efforts short on the track, did gym work, and some road work – but not too much, I placed emphasis on recovery.
That man Sagan!
PEZ: The Olympic madison in Tokyo must be a big goal – but is the team comfortable with you riding?
Yes, it’s definitely a goal for us. The team are supportive of my ambitions and I don’t really need a lot of time for specialist preparation, no track training camps or anything like that. I actually hope I’m selected for the Tour de France squad because I think that will give me great core for Tokyo; the madison takes place on August 8th. It can be risky, if you come out of the Tour tired but I have good previous experiences of coming out of Grand Tours and finding good shape pretty quickly after I recover.
PEZ: On the subject of track racing – no Copenhagen Six day in 2020.
Very sad, it was a big event on the six day calendar but I’m confident it will come back. Already the local Ballerup Cycling Club have announced that they will promote a three day event on dates close to when the Six would have taken place.
Two more years with Lefevere
PEZ: Elia Viviani leaving the team to go to Cofidis, that must be an emotional situation for you?
Yes, it’s great pity, I really enjoyed working with him, not just because he’s one of the best sprinters in the world but because he’s a good person and we got along very well. We didn’t actually need to talk much in finals, we had a great understanding between us; he trusted me 100% – I’d have loved to continue working with him.
Taking a push in the Tour de France
PEZ: You’re racing 11 months of the year, how do you keep your motivation?
I’ve been riding for so many years now that I think I’ve developed a big, solid engine but I take regular rests, the first one after the Classics season at the end of April; I do that three or four times each year – you have to take proper rest.
Working for Alaphilippe in the Tour
PEZ: It seems like yesterday you were a neo-pro and here you are one of the most experienced riders in the peloton.
The years pass very quickly; it seems just like a year or two since I was staring out. I have to pinch my arm sometimes to see if it’s really happening – on the most successful team in the World Tour, going well and better than ever on the track. I remember when I was with the GLS continental team back in 2005 to 2008 becoming a pro was just a dream and I wasn’t sure it was something I’d be able to realise. During my career there have been no big jumps in performance, but each year I take a step up, it’s not been a spectacular process.
With Tour’19 winner Egan Bernal
PEZ: The Road Worlds – a great day for Denmark.
Yes, the first Dane to win the Elite Worlds and I was on the team. But of course it was such a terrible day for weather, I was sad because I knew that it wasn’t going to be my day; I like the course, I prepared well for the race – I always do for the Worlds – but I know that I don’t go well in those conditions. I tried to put it out of my head but in my heart I knew that it wasn’t going to be my day. I didn’t finish and was watching the race on TV in the team bus with three or four others from the team who had abandoned too; coming to the finish I was 100% sure Trentin would win but for Mads to beat him was extraordinary.
Working hard in the Tour
PEZ: The performance which gave you most satisfaction, this year?
That’s a difficult one, there have been so many hi-lites but one that stands out was the lead out for Elia in the London Classic, it was perfect and I took third to join him on the podium. Elia winning in the Hamburg Classic was memorable too – and winning the European madison Championship was nice. . .
Leading the descent in Tirreno-Adriatico
PEZ: Two more years with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, that’s a vote of confidence.
In February other teams were expressing an interest in me but I’m very happy where I am, so we spoke to the team and I’m on board 2020 and 2021 – it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.
Hammer series in Limburg
# The man is the pro’s pro, we look forward to the Worlds and Tokyo with great interest. #
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,800 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.