It would be no understatement to say that Denmark's Michael Morkov is not used to working as a sprinter. However, when a chance to get a Grand Tour victory comes along like Thursday's the Saxo-Tinkoff rider was more than ready to grab it with both hands, taking his team's second stage win of the 2013 Vuelta a España.
The reigning Danish champion told Spanish television TVE that he had never taken part in a bunch sprint prior to Wednesday. But he hit the jackpot nonetheless, claiming the third victory of his career.
"It was the first time I took part in one," Morkov, whose previous stellar moment in a Grand Tour came when he led the Tour de France King of the Mountains competition last year for the first week. "But there was nobody else in the team here who's quick in a sprint, so I had that role.
"I got on [Fabian] Cancellara's back wheel, and to tell the truth, I wasn't sure exactly when to accelerate. I thought I might have miscalculated, but I got it right. Cancellara surging for the line like that made a big difference.
"And winning this stage with the jersey of national champion on my back is by far the best moment of my career."
Saxo-Tinkoff's great first week of the Vuelta is undeniable. The Danish team have taken two out of the seven stages with Nicolas Roche and Morkov, have three riders placed in the top ten overall (Nicolas Roche in second, Rafael Majka in ninth and Roman Kreuziger in tenth, all less than 45 seconds back on Nibali) and continue to lead in the both the King of the Mountains and the ‘combined' classification with Roche.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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