Morton and Padun to present bicycles and gear to Ukrainian juniors

Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lachlan Morton is again using the bicycle to make a difference. This time he joins forces with EF Education-EasyPost teammate Mark Padun on Saturday to distribute Cannondale bicycles to 13 Ukrainian junior racers who have been displaced in Poland and are now refugees because of the Russian invasion.

Padun, now 26 and a veteran of six years as a WorldTour professional, knows first hand about having his world turned upside down. He fled his home in Donetsk, Ukraine to avoid a Russian invasion when he was 17 years old. He spent time at a cycling academy near Kyiv, then moved to Italy to race for a Under 23 team near Bergamo. By 2017 he had turned pro with Bahrain Merida. 

“I just always had the dream to be a pro cyclist,” he said. “I would be at training camps back in Ukraine and would just know that I wanted to be a pro cyclist, that I was working for that.”

Padun signed with EF Education-EasyPost for the 2022 season, which began with a win in the time trial at Gran Camiño in Spain and finished third overall, trying to maintain focus as Russia attacked Ukraine. 

“The war started with my first race of the season and it was pure shock to me. But this is my job. I am doing this as best as I can. I always had these thoughts about what was happening, always checking the news, always asking the relatives how they are doing and hoping it is going to end soon,” Padun said. 

After pushing through to deliver a powerful start to the season he then got sick, with the team saying it was months before he returned to normal, and then was able to finish the season by completing the Vuelta a España and several of the fall Italian Classics, finishing 11th at Giro dell’Emilia.

Since the 2022 season ended, Padun has collected cycling gear to give to Ukrainian refugees, specifically children who were interested in racing. On Saturday he will join Morton to distribute the bicycles and gear in Poland. 

Morton has again focused on an alternative cycling calendar, which has included endurance mountain bike events, races in the LIfe Time Grand Prix off-road series in the US and the UCI Gravel World Championships in Italy. 

This spring he rode 1,063 kilometres (660.5 miles) in 42 hours from Munich, Germany to the Korczowa, Poland, on the Ukraine border, to raise funds and awareness for individuals and families displaced by the Russian invasion. In what he called the One Ride Away initiative, Morton’s effort generated $297,000 for GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

"This marks the end of a chosen hardship from me but it's symbolic of a hardship that's being enforced on a whole bunch of people just on the other side of this border,” Morton said in late March upon completing his two-day ride. 

“I hope the cycling community can get together and help support these people."

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Jackie Tyson
North American Production editor

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp for several minor league teams. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road and gravel rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).