CARCASSONNE (VN) – Time ran out for Michael Mørkøv in the Tour de France.
Leading maestro and top-notch cut calculator Mørkøv missed cut time in Stage 15 of the Tour de France as the scorching sun and two intense weeks took their toll.
“I gave it my all,” an exhausted and sweat-soaked Mørkøv told reporters upon arrival on Sunday evening.
Mørkøv arrived at the line in downtown Carcassonne more than an hour after spending most of the day alone.
The peloton’s Danish teacher was nearly 30 kilometers down the road when Jasper Philipsen roared to victory in Sunday’s stage, locked in a personal surviving push he wasn’t ready to let go.
“It was indescribably difficult,” he said. “I knew it would be a difficult stage. I had to let go of the peloton from the start. I was determined to get to the finish and see if it would be enough to continue.
This was not the case.
Quick-Step sprint mathematician Alpha Vinyl Mørkøv cycled to the line about 45 minutes after the last group of the band unclipped from one more stage of the Tour before packing his suitcase and booking a flight out of France.
“Some runners are really struggling”
Mørkøv’s turbulent day lays bare the brutality of an exceptionally difficult start to this year’s Tour.
Morkov had spoken to BikeNews just a few hours before the start of his 200 km solo on Sunday morning.
“The racing seems to be very difficult on the Tour this year. It was hard to run every day. Difficult mountain stages and the heat don’t make it any easier,” said Morkov. BikeNews in the furnace-like starting village in Mende on Saturday.
For most riders, with the exception of Mørkøv, Sunday’s race in Carcassonne proved to be the first direct and numbered stage of the race so far.
“Every day has been full of gas. There hasn’t been a single day where a little break has cleared and the peloton just rolled,” said DSM manager Matt Winston. BikeNews before the stage on Sunday.
Read also :
A tricky course full of pitfalls, teams jostling for WorldTour points in this year’s relegation season, and a whole new brand of GC races from Tadej Pogačar and Jumbo-Visma have upped the intensity.
“When you look at Denmark, every day was full of gas with the wind and the small roads, then the stage in Calais was tough, then straight into Roubaix,” Winston said. “And now we’re in the mountains – it’s been a really tough tour. I think some guys are really struggling.
Winston spoke as the thermometer steadily climbed towards 40 degrees in the Massif Central on Sunday. A mid-summer heat wave saw ASO deploy water spray trucks to hose down the tarmac and reduce downtime to 20%.
The extra percentage points from the organizer were not enough for Mørkøv, the Tour’s leading sprint driver and cut-off calculator.
“I kept calculating and pushing hard even though I knew time was not on my side, but then, with 15 kilometers to go, I realized my Tour was over,” he said. he declared when he finally finished his long solo feast.
Mørkøv has taken Sam Bennett and Mark Cavendish through the mountains within the Tour time limits to see Quick-Step score green jerseys over the past two years.
The Tour is cruel, the irony is more cruel.
The Tour is the Tour. And the Tour is difficult.
Is the Tour much more difficult this year?
“I think the level at the Tour de France is super high every year. But yes, of course, this year has been quite difficult,” Mørkøv said. BikeNews before the stage on Sunday morning.
“Maybe also there weren’t so many flat sprint stages where the peloton could relax a bit, so it was tough GC or breakaway days every day.”
Rapid progression in training, nutrition and recovery techniques means racing gets harder and faster every season. Glucose monitors and recovery trackers are as essential as power meters and heart rate straps.
Climb speeds are pushed faster and top speeds increase.
“I think you forget what your previous Tour was like,” said Arkéa-Samsic rider Connor Swift BikeNews.
“I remember in 2020 and 2021 people were saying it was the toughest Tour de France they’ve ever done. I think it’s just the Tour and the grand tours in general. A victory stage on the Tour, it’s absolutely enormous.
One hundred and fifty-two riders are scrapped for a stage in the third week of the Tour. COVID cases, crashes and extreme heat have already rid the race of two dozen runners.
Short explosive stages and mountain top finishes in the Pyrenees could see these 24s become much more.