Danish debutant living the polka dotted dream
Chris Anker Sørensen was supposed to be the main man for Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank when it came to the mountain jersey, but instead it was Michael Mørkøv, riding in his first Tour de France, who stole the show on the first official stage on Sunday.
Stage 1 only had five mountain points up for grabs, one point in five different places along the route, due to the low category of the inclines on the route, but Mørkøv won three of the five points while Pablo Urtasun of Euskaltel and stage winner Peter Sagan of Liquigas won the other two points.
Mørkøv was part of a six-rider breakaway that led for much of the race, but that were ultimately caught by the peloton before the finish, which was won by the young Slovakian starlet Sagan.
Before then, Mørkøv had taken the first point after 42 km on the Côte de Cokaifagne, while Spaniard Urtasun took the point 7 km later on Côte de Francorchamps. But then Mørkøv showed his poise by beating Urtasun for the next two mountain points and sealing his lead in the mountain standings.
Aside from Mørkøv, the only Danes to have worn the esteemed polka dotted mountain jersey are tour legends Bjarne Riis and Michael Rasmussen.
“It’s always a brilliant feeling writing oneself into the history books, and I suppose that’s why we all do sports,” Mørkøv told Berlingske newspaper. “I thought that the conditions were good for me today after I was part of the six man breakaway group. Everyone was working hard and I quickly realised that I was the fastest of the six.”
While Mørkøv is expected to lose the mountain jersey after tomorrow’s stage which features some more difficult category 3 inclines, he will be assured the mountain jersey until then, as today’s stage only has one point up for grabs.
And Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Banks sporting director, Dan Frost, was impressed with Mørkøv’s performance and hopes the team can build on his success in the upcoming stages.
“Now he can keep the jersey for two stages because he can’t be surpassed in tomorrow’s stage,” Frost said on the team website. “And hopefully the success will also rub off on his teammates who will definitely be motivated by Mørkøv’s accomplishment.”
While Mørkøv remains a 50 to one outsider to win the mountain jersey (Bet365), Sørensen’s stock continues to be strong at 13/2 (Ladbrokes).
Today’s stage will most likely feature a sprint finish and the Danish team will be trying to maneuver Argentine sprinter J.J. Haedo into a favourable position for the finish.
Swiss RadioShack rider Fabian Cancellara continues to lead the overall standings, seven seconds ahead of heavily-fancied Englishman Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky.