Mark Cavendish gets golden ticket to sprint success: Michael Mørkøv roped in to ride Giro d’Italia

Leadout ace Mørkøv called in to replace injured teammate Van Wilder, reuniting him with Cavendish after they crushed 2021 Tour de France.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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It’s the gift any sprinter wants to see on the eve of a grand tour – the news that leadout man de luxe Michael Mørkøv will be pulling for you.

Mark Cavendish received that gift Monday when Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl confirmed Mørkøv had been roped in to replace the injured Ilan van Wilder in the Giro d’Italia roster.

And as if Mørkøv isn’t enough, Cavendish will have a long leadout line in Italy. Davide Ballerini and Bert van Lerberghe will also be there to make the train.

“We go to the Giro d’Italia with a lot of motivation,” Quick-Step director Davide Bramati said. “We have a good team at the start, with Mark as our man for the flat. He has won a lot of stages at the Giro, and he can rely on many strong riders to support and guide him in the hectic bunch sprints.”

Mørkøv is any sprinter’s golden ticket to a rich harvest of victories, and Cavendish knows that all too well.

The Danish veteran piloted Cavendish to the Tour de France green jersey at last year’s Tour de France. He did the exact same for Sam Bennett in 2020, and worked with a fleet of famous fastmen including Marcel Kittel, Elia Viviani, and Alexander Kristoff before that.

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Cavendish was gushing in praise of his 37-year-old wingman last summer.

“It’s a known fact Michael is the best leadout man in the world,” he said.

Mørkøv piloted his sprinter to four Tour stage wins to help him level him with Eddy Merckx, and motored the Manx through the mountains to guide him to green when the race reached Paris.

Cavendish and Mørkøv have already ridden tandem a handful of times this season. Runs through the UAE Tour, Brugge-De Panne and Milan-Turin saw Cavendish accumulate two of the three victories he claimed so far this season.

“Back with Mørkøv again,” Cavendish said after winning Milan-Turin. “I just feel dialed you know, with this team.”

Mørkøv’s perfect poise in the melee of a mass sprint will make for a major asset for Cavendish at this year’s Giro. A deep sprint field including Caleb Ewan, Biniam Girmay, Fernando Gaviria, and Giacomo Nizzolo will be in the frame for a half dozen sprint finishes scattered through the race.

Mørkøv will likely bail out of the Giro before the mountains make mayhem with sprinters’ legs in the final week.

As a shoo-in for Quick-Step’s Tour eight, Mørkøv will need to rest and reboot ahead of guiding reigning green jersey Fabio Jakobsen through the Tour de France.

Cavendish and the fast-finishing cohort will likely join Mørkøv in a mass exit from the Italian Tour after the race’s second week. Don’t be surprised if “The Missile” has flown to his 16th Giro stage win off the back of Mørkøv’s wheel by that point.

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