Mark Cavendish will be forced to do without his main lead-out man for the rest of the Giro d'Italia after QuickStep-AlphaVinyl announced that Michael Mørkøv had left the race on Friday morning after developing a fever overnight.
The Dane has a reputation as the top lead-out man in the peloton and has already helped Cavendish to a stage win during the first week of the race. He led the Manxman out for the 160th win of his career on the fast, partly downhill, finish in Balatonfüred on stage 3.
"At the advice of the team's medical staff, Michael Mørkøv won't start today's Giro stage after developing fever overnight," read a statement issued by QuickStep-AlphaVinyl.
"Everybody at QuickStep-AlphaVinyl wishes Michael a speedy recovery!"
37-year-old Mørkøv joined the Belgian squad in 2018 after seven years at Saxo Bank and a two-year stint at Katusha. He has established himself as one of the best lead-outs in cycling history.
Since joining the team, he has played a major part in 15 Grand Tour sprint wins taken by Elia Viviani, Sam Bennett, and Mark Cavendish, helping the trio to two Tour de France green jerseys and a Giro d'Italia maglia ciclamino to boot.
This season he has helped the team's sprinters, Cavendish and Fabio Jakobsen, to three victories apiece, including stages at the UAE Tour, Paris-Nice, and Cavendish's victory at Milano-Torino, the first-ever win for a British rider at the one-day race.
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl will now be forced to recalibrate their sprint train through the remainder of the Giro d'Italia, with the next nailed-on flat sprint finish coming up on stage 11 in Reggio Emilia.
Mauro Schmid, Bert Van Lerberghe and Davide Ballerini have played a major part in the lead-out train so far in the race, with the fast-finishing Italian likely to take over the final position usually occupied by Mørkøv.
Mørkøv is the fifth rider to abandon the Giro so far, joining Jan Tratnik, Miguel Ángel López, Jakub Mareczko, and Filippo Fiorelli on the list of riders who have been forced to withdraw. 171 riders will take the start of stage 7 in Diamante.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.
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