Morton wins big in Utah

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Lachlan Morton (Getty Images)

Australian Lachlan Morton has taken the first win of his professional career, escaping over the top of Mount Nebo alone and holding off the chase to win Stage 3, and take the race lead, at the 2013 Tour of Utah.

The last five kilometers were incredibly tough but I just kept throttling it. I just had my head set on the finish line. I was losing time on the flat because it was windy. I didn’t really look back until 500 to go.

Yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet (BMC) won the sprint for second, leading home Lucas Euser and George Bennett in the chase, but the Belgian, who won the race's opening stage could not do enough to keep himself at the head of the overall classification. Morton now leads van Avermaet by 22 seconds, with UnitedHealthcare's Lucas Euser third at 40 seconds.

For Morton, who turned professional with Garmin-Sharp this year, the win was borne out of a gutsy move he instigated half way up to the summit of Mount Nebo, and still more than 40km from the finish down in the valley in Payson.

The 21 year old bridged to an escape that included a weary Ben King (RadioShack-Leopard) and Carter Jones (Bissell) shortly before the crest of the climb, and with the fresher legs continued on alone when the two Americans were unable to stay with him.

Morton still had it all to do however - the youngsters wiry frame not the ideal physique  to keep a chase of some 21 riders on the downhill, relatively straightforward dash to Payson, at bay. Though his advantage would shrink considerably, Morton managed to hold a 33 second buffer at the finish, winning solo and snagging the race lead.

2013 Stage 3 Tour of Utah Highlights from Tour of Utah on Vimeo.

The Australian, who lives in Boulder, Colorado for much of the year, and has raced in the United States for several years successfully is now a dark horse to retain the lead all the way to the finish in Park City on Stage 6.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah sees the race hit the capital, Salt Lake City, for a circuit race before two hard days in the mountains on Stages 5 and 6.

Stage 5, the queen stage to Snowbird features a summit finish and more than 3000 metres of vertical elevation gain.

Stage 3: 191.2km, Richfield - Payson
1 Lachlan David Morton (AUS) Garmin-Sharp     4hr 20min 20sec      
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team     0:00:33      
3 Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team     0:00:34      
4 George Bennett (NZL) RadioShack-Leopard
5 Javier Alexis Acevedo Colle (COL) Jamis-Hagens Berman            
6 Gregory Brenes (CRC) Champion System
7 Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
8 Philip Deignan (IRL) UnitedHealthcare
9 Tiago Machado (POR) RadioShack-Leopard
10 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Leopard

General Classification
1 Lachlan David Morton (AUS) Garmin-Sharp     13hr 49min 7sec      
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team     0:00:22      
3 Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team     0:00:40      
4 Tiago Machado (POR) RadioShack-Leopard 0:00:43     
5 Gregory Brenes (CRC) Champion System 00:00:44
6 Michael Schar (SUI) BMC
7 Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
8 Ben King (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
9 Carter Jones (USA) Bissell
10 Ben Day (AUS) UnitedHealthcare

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