Australia’s Lachlan Morton, 19, turned heads after winning Canada’s prestigious Junior race, the Tour de l’Abitibi last year and riding into a seventh place overall at the Tour of Utah. This year, he took his young career one step further and rode into a sixth place overall at the UCI 2.HC Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. He also made a distinct impact on the US domestic racing scene for his climbing prowess during many of the National Racing Calendar (NRC) stage races including the Tour of the Gila and the Cascade Cycling Classic. Now in his second season with Jonathan Vaughters’ UCI Continental Chipotle Development team, he is hoping to make the jump to its ProTeam counterpart Garmin-Cervelo in the near future.
Cyclingnews spoke with Morton following the Cascade Cycling Classic held in Bend, Oregon last week, where he placed second overall to the veteran Grand Tour contender from RealCyclist.com Francisco Mancebo, where he also secured the event’s Best Young Rider competition. The six-day race was intended as a precursor to more important races at the UCI 2.1 Volta a Portugal from August 4-15 and the UCI 2.1 USA Pro Cycling Challenge held from August 22-28 in Colorado. However to his disappointment, the UCI made a last-minute decision to prohibit the development team from competing at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge due to its affiliation with the participating team Garmin-Cervelo.
Cyclingnews: When did you start bike racing, how did you get involved in the sport and have you had a strong support network of family, friends and coaches, during your career?
Lachlan Morton: I started racing when I was eight through the local Port Macquarie club to put off starting go carts for a few years and never looked back. Graham Seers took my older brother and I under his wing and taught me everything I know about how to race a bike. My parents also fell in love with the sport and started to ride as well and they drove us all around the country to bike races. Inigo San Millan [PhD, director of Human Performance Laboratory at University of Colorado Hospital’s Sports Medicine Clinic] was the first guy who really made me believe I could ride as a Pro. Without that support network it's impossible to dream big and achieve big.
CN: What are your highest ambitions for a professional cycling career?
LM: I guess like any rider I want to make a living racing as a Pro in Europe, but I don't want to just ride races, I want to race big races and contend for wins. However, I know that will take some years. As far as biggest dreams go, the Tour de France is a dream. I have no idea how obtainable that is though.
CN: Where do you see your cycling career take you over the next few years as you exit the Under 23 program?
LM: At the moment I just take it race-by-race. I don't see the need to set a path or follow another person’s path. I'm lucky to be surrounded by a group of people that let me progress in a natural way and don’t push me in any direction. I hope to race in the UCI WorldTour within a few years but at the moment I'm just enjoying racing my bike with a good group of guys.
CN: Do you think you will be a member of the Garmin-Cervelo ProTeam in the near future?
LM: Yes, it defiantly feels like the natural progression but I'm certainly not forcing it. I'm totally aware of how large of a step it is and I know that just because you can podium in NRC races doesn't mean you can even finish WorldTour races. That being said, I would like to continue progressing forward with Slipstream Sports. They put faith in me two years ago when I was still a Junior. I can't even get that faith from my national team now. I don't forget these things.
CN: What sort of an impact did being prohibited from competing in your target race at the UCI 2.1 USA Pro Cycling Challenge have on you and your teammates?
LM: To find that out so late in the game was very disappointing for a number of reasons. Firstly, because we built the second half of our season around it and I truly believe, with the preparation we had planned, we could have pulled off some big results there. Secondly, because the objection of our participation was placed with no consideration to the bigger picture of developing cycling. I mean kick out two local Under 23 teams [Chipotle Development and Trek-Livestrong] so that Oscar Sevilla can come race?
CN: Can you comment the amount of success that development teams like Chipotle Development and Trek-Livestrong have had compared to the other UCI Continental teams and riders this year in the US?
LM: As far as I have seen NRC racing this year has been better to watch up and coming riders lay it on the line than an old timer cherry pick. We have an incredible amount of talent in our team, with an incredible team of staff to back us up. We are like a little family and I think we have a lot more fun. It's an environment that breeds success.
CN: What are your ambitions and event schedule for the second half of the season?
LM: We are off the Volta Portugal next week which will be more about experience and getting through it than anything else. Then, maybe, Vuelta a Mexico in September.