Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) says he's got some unfinished business with the Tour of California. The Australian has centred the first part of his 2018 season around the week-long race as he looks to improve on his seventh-place finish from last year.
It will be his fifth appearance at the American stage race, with his result last year far and away his best performance. The previous year saw him crash heavily and abandon after a strong showing on the third stage to Lake Tahoe, which was won by Julian Alaphilippe.
"My big goal for the first part of the year is the Tour of California," Morton told Cyclingnews at the Tour of the Alps. "I had pretty good results there last year but I think that I could have been better so the start of the year has been about getting myself ready for that. I’ve had some good results there but I sort of have unfinished business there, I guess.
"After this, I’ll head over to Colorado and do some altitude training and do my usual thing to get ready. Touch wood, everything is on the right track, and hopefully I can do something there."
Morton's season began back at the start of January with the national championships, followed by the Tour Down Under, where his teammate Tom-Jelte Slagter took third. After a short break, a trip to the Abu Dhabi Tour was next up before he made his European debut with the miserably wet Strade Bianche.
April has seen him race the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Tour of the Alps, where he is currently 51 minutes down in the overall standings. Morton says that he expected his European spring to be tough but believes he is on the right path towards the Tour of California.
"It’s been alright. I started a while ago in Australia. Obviously, we got some nice results there. I did Abu Dhabi, which for the team wasn't great but personally I felt pretty good," he explained. "Then I had a month of training, rebuilding up for California. I went to the Tour of the Basque country and got my head kicked in, which always happens. During spring in Europe, I always get my head kicked in. I feel good, I’m sort of on the right track and I’m where I need to be."
This is Morton’s second season with the Dimension Data team after he returned to WorldTour racing with them at the start of last year. Morton previously stepped away from the top level of cycling after becoming disillusioned with it. However, after spending two years racing at Continental level with the US Jelly Belly squad, he’s enjoying his second stint in the WorldTour a lot more.
"I’m definitely happy. I’m happy with where my life is. I’ve made the full move over to Europe with my wife here and we're really enjoying it," he said.
"Obviously, WorldTour racing is going to be different, with more pressure and more stress. It requires a lot of you as a person. It requires more sacrifices. There’s good and bad to every side. I'm really happy that I'm with this team and they seem to understand me quite well as a person and they've put a lot of faith in me, which I hope to get a chance to repay."
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