What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Talk: Giro Wrap With Michael Morkov

The Giro is over – but what’s it like to do ride and finish your first one? We asked that very question to Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov at his Luxembourg home.

PEZ: Congratulations Michael, a great achievement – when did you first know you were riding?
I was told at the training camp back in December; that was good because even though my season was interrupted by the problems I had with my knee, I knew I had the long term goal of the Giro to look forward to.

PEZ: Did you do special training for the race?
Not in terms of more kilometres but I spent two weeks in Monaco with Brad McGee prior to the Tour of Romandie to do specific climbing and sprint work. With the knee problems I’ve had it was my last chance to do some solid training – Romandie was fine and I finished the Giro so it worked well.

PEZ: Your worst day on the Giro?
Absolutely the second last stage to Ponte di Legno over Livigno. After 37 kilometres there was a 35 kilometre climb, I had to fight and really dig deep to get in a group; luckily I was dropped with some other guys – you can’t go into the red for too long, you have to be realistic and ride within yourself.

We fought all the way and caught the gruppo at the foot of the Gavia. It’s a hell of a long climb, but at the bottom it wasn’t so steep and the surface was good – but as we climbed it got steeper and narrower.

The thing that day was that the gruppo was so nervous; there was just one stage to go and no one wanted to be eliminated – the speed was actually quite high in the gruppo because guys were worried about the time cut.

PEZ: Best day?
The prologue, I was very proud to get a top 20 placing in company like that and it opened my eyes that I have the skills to be a good prologue rider. I always liked time trials and idolised prologue specialists like Brad McGee.

PEZ: We spoke to you after stage 9 and you were already tired.
I stayed at that level of tiredness and I think the rest of the peloton was the same – it’s normal to be tired in a Grand Tour. I spent a lot of time in the gruppos in the mountain stages so that helped.

PEZ: Did you lose weight during the race?
I actually gained around half a kilo but I was so afraid of going down with hunger that I ate everything I could get hold of! At breakfast and dinner I came away from the table unable to eat any more.

I was watching Nicki Sorensen and he was eating less than I was; but he’s ridden 13 Grand Tours and knows what he needs – that’s what I have to learn.

PEZ: Did you do a lot of work for Richie Porte?
I couldn’t help him in the mountains but I did what I could on the flat stages – it was a cool experience to be defending the pink, then the white jersey.

PEZ: The team must be happy with how the race went?
Very happy – we came in as young team with four of us riding our first Grand Tour and no real expectations. We won two stages and took a jersey, even with a team of nine experienced Grand Tour riders we might not have done that – but the luck did go our way.

PEZ: Surprises?
I felt good in the three weeks, I like the longer racing, but I was surprised by the climbs – I’ve had some good results in hilly races but when you go to a Grand Tour the climbing is at a different level altogether. The experienced riders tell you that if you can’t go with the lead group then go into the gruppo straight away; there’s no point in killing yourself for 35th place.

PEZ: Was there a big celebration after Gustav won the last stage in Verona?
Unfortunately not, we had actually left to get flights home before he’d ridden – we actually saw him win on the TV in a gas station 50 K outside Verona!

It would have been really cool to have a celebration on the bus and be with my team mates but it just wasn’t possible.

PEZ: Did you sleep in on Monday?
No, I got up at my normal time and went training – I think my body was still in the Giro routine – I felt surprisingly fresh and thought; “this isn’t so bad!”

But Tuesday and Wednesday I was completely smashed – on Wednesday I had to cut short my run because I was so tired.

PEZ: What did you crave during the Giro?
Pizza! I was thinking about one for three weeks and it was great to have one on Monday.

PEZ: Was it strange to be home?
I don’t like to come home after races, especially a Grand Tour; every day on the race there’s a plan pinned on the wall, where you have to be at what time and everything you have to do – you don’t have to think. And your food is always there, ready; but when you come home you have to buy food and prepare it yourself – it’s strange.

PEZ: Lessons learned?
Don’t stay too long in the ‘red zone’ – I was careful about that before but it’s even more important in a Grand Tour, go to the gruppo, don’t kill yourself.

Look at what you eat, all the time, don’t let your blood sugar drop.

PEZ: What now?
An easy week out of the Giro then a week of training with Brad MCGee for the Ster Elektrotoer from the 16th to 20th of June, we’ll be doing specific time trial work.

PEZ: Did you ride out to watch the Tour of Luxembourg?
Yes, I watched the prologue and rode out to watch, today – it was good to see the guys in action.

PEZ: I have to ask – ‘electric bikes?’
We’re all still laughing about that one, it’s nonsense. I actually saw the bike which Fabian won Paris – Roubaix on; the mechanic brought it down to the Tour of Romandie for Fabian to collect, it still had the mud on it and I was very pleased to get the chance to check it out.

Let me assure you, there was no engine on it!

Glad we cleared that one up – with thanks to Michael and let’s hope he has a good TT in the Ster Elektrotoer. And good news for you six day fans out there – “Morkov & Rasmussen ride the summer six at Fiorenzola!” remember where you heard it first.

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