At the start of the sixth stage of the USA Pro Challenge from Loveland and Fort Collins, Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) sat in fifth place. Morton was satisfied with his performance but thought that he and his teammate, Gavin Mannion, who sat in fourth place, had a shot at the podium.
"Hopefully BMC won't be following us closely because we are over a minute down now," Morton said. "I'd like to try something on that climb and hopefully draw out SmartStop a bit so Gavin can have a crack at the finish."
True to his word, Morton attacked on Rist Canyon and gained more than a minute on the field. He was unable to connect with the breakaway and the peloton brought him back as the field rounded Horsetooth Reservoir. Morton made another last-ditch effort as the field drove towards Fort Collins, but the field was unwilling to let him go that late in the race. The aggressive performance proved Morton's passion for the sport had returned.
"I'm having fun, man," he said. "The team is a relaxed team, there is no pressure in there. We are coming out and racing hard, especially being here in Colorado. I've had my family out here at most of the stages and [Morton's brother] Gus on the team. It makes a big difference. I'm loving it."
Morton almost left the sport in 2013 during his first WorldTour campaign but made it through with the support of his brother Angus. The pair searched for a team to take them both on for the 2015 season and found their way to Jelly Belly. The impact has helped Morton maintain perspective.
"We room together during the races, and he basically looks after me all through the stage," Morton said. "It's just a nice grounding sort of thing to it. It keeps it all in perspective when you've got your brother there. He is there at the races but he is also there at home."
Morton does not discount the idea that he might work his way back to Europe one day, but he feels that he and Jelly Belly are a good fit.
"I'm kind of excited about what we've done alongside [Jelly Belly manager] Danny [Van Haute] at the team this year," Morton said. "I feel like since the start of the year the way we are racing is just improving all the time. I'd love to be part of that again next year, but at the moment we don't have any plans."
Though his 2016 team plans are still in progress, Morton would like to continue racing in the US. Morton said he prefers racing in the US more than any other place in the world and is enjoying racing again. The 23-year old Australian has put together a new outlook, which enables him to succeed and enjoy racing at the same time.
"You know, when you are racing well and the results are coming it's easy to be like, 'Oh maybe it would be nice to go to the WorldTour and do that again,' but you've got to keep it all in perspective. Sometimes when it's not as good it's nice to be here."