MIKKEL BJERG

The Dan­ish sen­sa­tion is the irst rider to win back- to- back U23 world time trial ti­tles

Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

The con­sec­u­tive world ti­tles are prob­a­bly the best place to start…

Yes, Mikkel was a dou­ble un­der-23 TT world cham­pion be­fore he’d even left his teens (he’s 20 now). No rider had won two ti­tles in the class, let alone back-to-back, in 23 years of the event. He re­tained the ti­tle he won in Ber­gen in 2017 in Inns­bruck this Septem­ber.

He’s a time tri­al­list then?

Rac­ing against the clock is cer­tainly his spe­cial­ity. The Copen­hagen­born rider was sec­ond in the ju­nior world TT race in 2016, hav­ing swapped swim­ming for cy­cling due to a knee in­jury. A year later, he took the rain­bow jer­sey in his first year at U23 level, em­phat­i­cally win­ning by over a minute. Re­tain­ing the jer­sey was the tar­get of 2018; so much so, he flew to Aus­tria 10 days be­fore the race to get to know the course in­side out.

Does the World­Tour beckon?

Not just yet. Mikkel signed with Ha­gens Ber­man Ax­eon last year through the 2019 sea­son, and sees the ProConti team as the best place to man­age his de­vel­op­ment. “I don’t want to be the U23 world cham­pion that never did any­thing af­ter win­ning the ti­tle, so I’ve kind of taken it step-by-step,” he told Cy­clingnews ear­lier this year.

How’s his road rac­ing?

Turn­ing him­self into a rounded racer has been part of the ob­jec­tive this year. His sea­son started well with a win in March at the one-day Rabobank Dor­penom­loop Rucphen from a sprint. But Mikkel ad­mits he’s got a lot to learn about tac­tics and rid­ing in the bunch. His spring was de­railed when he crashed at Nokere Ko­erse, and he was left with a bro­ken hand. Yet on his re­turn, he was soon back do­ing what he does best against the clock: he was sixth in the TT at the Tour of Cal­i­for­nia be­hind a string of World­Tour rid­ers. In Oc­to­ber, he set a new Dan­ish Hour Record, cov­er­ing 53.73km.

Any­thing else to note?

In a case of six de­grees of sep­a­ra­tion, this spring Mikkel got en­gaged to Cervélo Bigla rider and fel­low Dane Emma Nors­gaard. She is the sis­ter of Mathias Nors­gaard, who just so hap­pened to win bronze in the U23 Worlds TT in Inns­bruck be­hind Mikkel.

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