Lachlan Morton is the latest Chipotle development rider to graduate to the Garmin-Sharp ranks, signing a two-year contract until 2014. The 20-year-old Australian has been part of the Slipstream development programme since 2010 when he finished 7th overall in a competitive Tour of Utah. The overall was won by Levi Leipheimer, and while Morton was restricted to racing in junior gear ratios, it marked him out as a highly talented rider.
Since 2010 Morton has followed a steady progression at Slipstream with top ten overall placings at the 2011 Tour of Langkawi and Cascade Classic. This season he finished a creditable 6th at the Tour de la Guadeloupe before riding out the remainder of the season as a stagiaire for Garmin-Sharp.
“Turning pro with the team has been in the works for a couple of years but I’m really looking forward to it,” Morton told Cyclingnews.
Despite reports that Garmin’s development team has ridden its final season, Morton’s stint as a stagiaire was centred around gaining experience before a likely switch to the professional ranks.
“It was a great experience riding as a stagiaire. It was all a little last minute and I was halfway through Guadeloupe when I got the call up to do the US Pro Challenge which started a week later. So there wasn’t much preparation but it was great to race with such a successful team and at the Tour of Britain we had a young team but still managed to get some good results. I had a lot of fun. And it went better than I was expecting it to.”
“There’s never a degree of certainly in bike racing though so I still had things to prove as a stagiaire. I wanted to prove it to myself more than anything, that I was ready and to get my head around what I was going to be doing in the next couple of years. If I’d gone in there and performed horribly then I don’t think I would have a slot on the team but it was also about getting experience as well as securing a spot.”
Morton will join Steele Von Hoff - another Australian graduating from the Chipotle ranks - at Garmin’s first team training camp next month in Arizona. From there he’ll return to Australia to compete in the national road championships before beginning his WorldTour career with the Tour Down Under.
“Then I’ll head to the Tour of Langkawi before heading to Europe. The big races will include Romandie before I hope to head to the US and do the Tour of California.”