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Lachlan Morton hits 1,700km in his mammoth Alt Tour de France solo challenge

Lachlan Morton dives into his dinner
Lachlan Morton dives into his dinner (Image credit: EF Education Nippo)

Lachlan Morton (EF Education-Nippo) has covered over 1,700 kilometers so far as he aims to ride the entire route of the 2021 Tour de France – including race transfers – and arrive in Paris ahead of the peloton.

The Australian, who is riding in order to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief, started his challenge on Saturday and has already been in the saddle for a grand total of 67 hours. On Wednesday he rode for 14 hours, covering 370km as he aims to build up a substantial buffer ahead of this weekend’s double-header in the French Alps.

“I think the mornings are the hardest part of the day but I managed to have a good sleep,” he said before setting off in the dark on Thursday morning.

“Today I’m hoping to tick off another 300km or so. Heading across France towards the Alps. I think the roads will be a little more forgiving than we’ve had over the past four days, so let’s see what the day holds.”

On the eve of the challenge, Morton spoke to Cyclingnews and explained where the idea to replicate the sort of racing that took place in the inaugural 1903 edition of the Tour came from, and what aspects of the experience he was most looking forward to.

“The team threw the idea around about doing this for the Giro last year but I actually ended up doing the actual Giro instead," he told Cyclingnews.

“Then the idea popped up a couple of months ago and Jonathan Vaughters asked me if it was doable. To be honest I didn’t really look too much into it but said I could do it. Then the more I looked into it the more I realized how much of an undertaking that this was going to be. That just got me more excited. It wasn’t my idea but I’ve tried to bring as much to the project as I could.

“It’s a lot closer to the original Tours and I want to feel what that experience is like with truly massive days on the bike and really exploring a country on a bike. It’s a style of riding I like because you can’t muck around because the days are long but you can still appreciate the countryside you’re riding through.”

That said, the enormity of the challenge Morton is taking on cannot be understated. He is riding the route in a completely self-sufficient manner, sleeping in campsites and cooking his own food. It’s a million miles away from the rather more pampered lifestyle of a WorldTour rider, who can rely on nightly massages, a professional cook, a team bus, and the added bonus of a real bed.

Morton has been picking up riding partners on the road, which have helped lift his spirits, but before starting the ride almost a week ago he was well aware of the enormity of what he was about to embark on.

“I have to be on it every day,” he told Cyclingnews.

“It’s looking like an average of 12 hours of moving time each day. More than half my time, over those three weeks, will be spent pedalling and there’s a lot that can go wrong in that sort of time frame. Even in Grand Tours when you’ve got a whole crew supporting you, it’s hard enough. So managing all that myself is pretty daunting.”

At the end of day five (Wednesday), Morton’s morale remained high and he’s well on track to hit Paris in just over a fortnight from now.

“My day is done. I did 370 kilometres. I’m at this beautiful little campsite, about to set up my bag. Unfortunately no shower today, hopefully, this rain holds off too, but all in all a pretty good day,” he said last night.

Daniel Benson

Editor in Chief - Cyclingnews.