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Early this morning, Lachlan Morton (EF Education-Nippo) completed his one-man French odyssey, arriving in Paris at 5:30 after riding 19 hours straight to cover 579km/360mi.
Just 18 days ago, Morton had set off from Brittany to ride the entire Tour de France plus the transfers. The goal of his so-called Alt Tour was to beat the Tour de France peloton to Paris, generating publicity and fundraising for World Bicycle Relief along the way.
The Tour riders, of course, were sleeping in hotels, eating chef-prepared meals, and doing the transfers in vehicles. Morton was mostly camping and cooking his own food on a little one-burner stove. And he pedaled each and every one of the 5,500 kilometers, often in sandals.
Today, the Tour de France is racing stage 16, still five days out from its arrival into Paris.
The idea for the Alt Tour came from Morton’s team sponsor Rapha, which is making a video about the effort.
The World Bicycle Relief fundraiser was a success, as the effort raised more than half a million dollars for the charity that provides bikes and support to communities that need them.
The early days of the Tour de France were not the well-supported affairs that they are now, with luxury team busses and soigneurs and race radios. Rapha and EF Education-Nippo said the Alt Tour was inspired by the original Tour in 1903, a six-stage race that ran 2,428km/1,509mi. Stages were massive, averaging more than 250 miles.
Morton had a better bike than those ridden more than 100 years ago, but he still had no outside help, or even a draft of other riders. He averaged nearly 300km/186km every day.
For his final push, Morton rode straight through the night to cover 579km/360mi.
“Everybody at World Bicycle Relief has been blown away at Lachlan’s mammoth effort on our behalf,” said World Bicycle Relief UK CEO Allison Dufosee. “We have many fundraisers who undertake challenges to raise funds for us, for which we are incredibly grateful. When considering a challenge, thoughts are usually about the distance and how long that will take. However, the thousands of recipients of the bicycles that Lachlan has raised through incredible global generosity have no choice about the time or distance of their challenge.”