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The adventure racing superstar was a late-hour replacement on EF Education-EasyPost, and it had been a while since he raced on a road bike.
Even longer, in fact, since he even touched a road bike.
“It’s the first time I’ve been on my road bike in seven months, riding to the sign-in,” Morton told VeloNews with a laugh. “I am happy to do anything, that’s why I am here. A couple of days ago they said they needed someone, so I drove down yesterday, and I will fill in. It’s nice, it’s exciting to be back on the team.”
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Do the math, and it’s possible the last time Morton touched his road bike was last summer in Paris at the conclusion of “Alt Tour” that went viral.
That Morton did not eventually finish the punishing Spanish road race across 40km of gravel sectors and more than 3,000m of climbing is no surprise either. Road racing is no longer the center of his universe.
Racing certainly is. It’s the surface that keeps changing for him.
“I am keen just to race this year, I don’t care what the discipline is,” Morton said. “I am just enjoying being in that environment.”
Lachlan Morton: ‘I am having fun mixing everything up’
The Australian shape-shifter is on the cutting edge of the sport where top racers are swapping disciplines like Carmelo Anthony changes NBA teams.
Tom Pidcock won an Olympic gold medal in mountain biking and then swaped the bike setup a few months later to bring home the rainbow jersey in cyclocross. This week, he leads a strong Ineos Grenadiers team at the Volta ao Algarve.
Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are also racing across various disciplines with stunning success, turning the notion of specialization on its head, and proving that a great cyclist can win on any surface.
“Those guys are on a much different level than I am,” Morton said. “I am having fun just mixing everything up. Today I race this, next Friday I do a mountain bike thing in Mallorca, then the following weekend some XC stuff. It’s fun, it’s motivating.”
GBDuro. Badlands. The Alt Tour. Cape Epic. Just to name a few.
What’s been your favorite Lachlan Morton journey so far? ⬇️
And are you ready for the next one? Stay tuned for more tomorrow 👀 pic.twitter.com/cKHUGSeyAV
— EF Pro Cycling (@EFprocycling) November 23, 2021
The 30-year-old Morton takes it to a whole new dimension, and he is pushing the envelope on what and how racing is defined, and what it means to be a professional cyclist.
A generation ago, the old-school mentality was train, race, rest, and recover. The thought of mixing disciplines or doing something beyond the traditional approach to racing was heresy.
Today, new ideas are entering the peloton. Sepp Kuss can do a cross-country ski race. Riders spend weeks at altitude, parachute into a race and promptly win without any racing at all, just like Alexey Lutsenko did Monday.
Also read: Life Time series offers $250,00 gravel purse
Morton confirmed to VeloNews he will have an ambitious 2022.
There will be a few more European road races, with likely starts at Coppi e Bartali and the Tour of the Alps. There are no more grand tours in his immediate future – at least not racing them.
Morton will race the full Life Time six-race gravel series, which is offering $250,000 in prize money.
“I will do all those events,” he said of the Life Time series. “I will do the two African races as well. Basically, a lot of everything, all year long.”
No repeat of the ‘Alt Tour,’ but ‘something else big’ in the works
Morton is a dream spot right now.
With the support of EF Education-EasyPost and other sponsors, Morton is pedaling himself into an ideal scenario for anyone riding and racing bikes.
The pressure isn’t on results, it’s on passion. He’s getting paid to do what he loves. Whether it’s the Kokopelli Trail or the Cape Epic or some European road race days, Morton is in his stew.
The biggest story last year wasn’t the 2021 Tour de France. It was Morton tracing the Tour route alone around France.
Dubbed the “Alt Tour,” Morton’s story went viral and made headlines across the world. Fans were able to follow his solo ride on a live tracker, and fans came out to cheer him as he traced each stage and pedaled between starts and finishes all the way to Paris for a total of 5,550km.
“It was bigger than I thought it would be,” Morton told VeloNews. “At the end of the day, I was doing something that I wanted to do, so it’s nice when the byproduct is that people get excited and inspired by that.”
The major U.S. networks picked up the trek and put the Tour de France in front of U.S. households in a whole new light. Last week, VeloNews reported just how much media impact the “Alt Tour” created.
Morton confirmed to VeloNews he will not be replicating the “Alt Tour” in 2022, but promised that “something else big” is in the works.
The easy-going Australian was quick to point out that he wants people to realize his projects are about following his passion, not some sort of contrived publicity stunts.
“Ultimately the things I do outside of racing are things I am trying to do is because I am genuinely passionate about, not just to create a bunch of publicity,” he said, before adding with a smile. “But if that happens, it’s nice because then I can do more of it.”
That the “Alt Tour” generated hundreds of millions of impressions was a surprise and a bonus, but it was not the intention from the start.
“I am in an ideal situation now,” he said before pedaling off to the start line. “It’s nice to be able to mix all these kinds of things. I am grateful for the opportunity to do it, and I am trying to hang on for that for as long as I can.”
Morton already packs a two-year contract in the back of his jersey. More adventures are assured.