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Lachlan Morton: ‘The WorldTour feels different this time around’

The Australian riding for Dimension Data said is on track to race the Tour of California this year, and perhaps the Vuelta a Espana.

Lachlan Morton quietly made his return to the WorldTour in January at Australia’s Santos Tour down Under.

Several weeks later at the Tour of Oman, Morton wasn’t so quiet.

Morton rode aggressively near the front of the pack on Oman’s hardest days, finishing 14th on stage 2, 10th on stage 3, and 7th on the stage 5 climb to Green Mountain. On that stage, Morton attacked near the base of the climb, hoping to set up his Dimension Data teammate Merhawdi Kudus. He finished the Tour of Oman in 8th place, just 1:21 down on winner Ben Hermans.

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VeloNews caught up with Morton to talk about Oman, the season ahead, and whether or not he’ll start a grand tour in 2018.

VN: Take us through your result at the Tour of Oman

Lachlan Morton: I could feel I was riding really well. I had been home [in Australia] training, and we were close to pulling off a win for Nathan [Haas] and got close but it didn’t quite fall that way. On the Green Mountain, [Kudus] and I were the two guys to go for it, and the plan was for me to attack early on the climb to get rid of the guys with teammates, and if everyone was by themselves, then [Kudus] would go. He attacked just slightly too early. I think he was the strongest guy on that climb. Either way, it was a good experience and it felt nice to be riding off the front on a climb like that with the caliber of guys like that.

VN: So far, how does this WorldTour experience compare to your previous stint in 2014?

LM: The WorldTour feels different this time around. I want to prove myself as an athlete, not just as a promising talent. I want to win some races. I felt more at home racing at this level that I ever did in the two years with Garmin. I dunno. So far it’s been really positive. We were racing for Nathan [Haas] for most of the [Australian] summer, and he was riding really well. He’s someone I get along with. I enjoyed jumping back into the role of working for someone else. It’s nice after having the pressure on your back for a few years every race.

VN: What’s your spring schedule look like?

LM: I’m in Colorado for three weeks, then back to Spain for [Volta a] Catalunya and then Pais Vasco. Then I come back here and train for the Tour of California. After California I’m doing the Tour de Suisse. California is the big goal for the first half of the season, so I’m slowly building up to that.

VN: So it sounds like you will be racing the Tour of California instead of the Giro d’Italia. What are your thoughts on that?

LM: It was the team’s call and it makes sense. Historically I’ve always gone better toward the end of the year. With the Vuelta being right at the backend of the year, hopefully I’ll have done enough WorldTour racing to deal with it a bit more. Jumping into the Giro would be pretty ambitious this year. Next year that is a race I would love to do. There’s so much climbing and a lot of opportunities to do things. With the Tour of California being a WorldTour race it becomes more important, so we have a good team going there.

VN: You’ve spent the last two years racing alongside your brother, Gus. So now that you’re no longer teammates, who is the new Gus in your life?

LM: Ha, there’s no new Gus. It’s been a weird change. We’d always room together for two years, and now I’m back to rooming with people I don’t know. Gus is generally more organized, so he’s the one who knows what airline we’re flying and when dinner is and everything like that. It’s been a tough transition to work all of that stuff out myself. The group of guys I was with in Australia and again in Oman was great. We all got along so it’s been an easy transition.