Michael Morkov is one of the most experienced and valuable leadout riders in the peloton. Hence, Astana Qazaqstan have signed him in the pursuit of the best sprinter setup possible, and the Dane is very motivated to make it work alongside Mark Cavendish.
"It is a year of racing with Mark, who is going for the stage victory in the Tour de France. He is a rider for whom I can make a difference and for whom I can do a lot," Morkov told Feltet. "That's why I'm very motivated for next year. They have built an entire team around Mark. For a sprinter like me, it is unique to ride in a team where the sprinter is the priority. You often see in many other large teams that the sprinter and the lead-out are the second or third choice. This means that it can be difficult for them to start in the major races. Here the hierarchy is clear; I'm looking forward to a great season with Mark."
Astana have gone all-in on this mission. After Cavendish decided to postpone his retirement, the ultimate goal to win a 35th record-breaking Tour de France win continues. The Kazakh not only signed Morkov but also teammate Davide Ballerini. Together with these two riders who teamed up with Cavendish in his extremely successful comeback 2023 season, the team also signed former leadout man Mark Renshaw first as an adviser and now as a DS, and his coach in the Belgian team Vasilis Anastopoulos.
It is full dedication towarda a specific goal and the Dane is happy with that. Not only of his future teammates and setup but also the team management: "I have a very good impression of [Alexandre] Vinokourov and I feel that he is a man who is incredibly committed to the team. And, in his own way, has a great focus on the sporting side."
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Morkov also looks to perform on the track at the Olympic Games, perhaps the final big goal of his career as the 38-year old comes close to retirement. "It was a great success in 2021 and of course I hope it can be done again, but there are a lot of things that have to come together. Moreover, it is of course quite a gamble. A lot can happen during the Tour, but there really is no other way than to believe in the best."