Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development) put in a memorable performance in last weekend’s Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, featuring in the day’s decisive break on the way to picking up both the Sprint and Mountains classifications. The result was particularly impressive considering that the 19-year-old’s participation at the event was only confirmed three days prior.
A nagging knee injury had meant the Port Macquarie local had been unable to train for over a month leading into the race, following a big season in the United States and Europe.
Despite the time off the bike, Morton decided to participate at the event anyway- and in the end - was not far off winning it.
"I was uncertain as to how well I could go today, I really had no idea where my form was, just with the knee troubles and the time off the bike," Morton told Cyclingnews. "But on Wednesday I just decided, that yeah I was going to do it, and it’s turned out really well."
On the crucial climb up the Gibraltar range, an opportunistic Morton made what would be a race defining move with eventual winner Mark Jamieson (Jayco-2XU), with the youngster shredding the chasing field on the 18 kilometre climb.
"I felt really good on [Gibraltar]," said Morton. "I had some pretty good legs at that point so I just went. Even when we got caught [by the eight others after the summit] I felt alright. But going into the final 30 kilometres, the early effort, and the lack of miles in the legs caught up with me."
Despite looking the strongest climber in the break, Morton was unable to follow the late move of TDU rider Mark O’Brien on Gibson’s Hill, and eventually finished in sixth, in the second group on the road.
A fatigued Morton did however pick up the King of the Mountain and Sprint prizes with both coming as just reward for his aggression in the first 180 kilometres.
"I gave it a sniff on the first climb, and just went from there," said Morton. "I had no intention of going after either competition, but then no one was contesting them and they were so easy to pick up. It’s all a nice bonus."
For the 19-year-old, Grafton concludes a long season that saw Morton grab 6th overall in the Tour de Langkawi in February, before capturing third overall in the Tour of the Gila and second at Cascade.