Now back for his second crack at the World Tour, Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) is concentrating on keeping a positive mental outlook for the upcoming season.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
19 Jan 2017 - 6:58 AM 

The 25-year-old was touted as the golden boy of Australian cycling when he was elevated to the WorldTour with Garmin-Sharp but soon found himself stymied at the American team. An abysmal 2014 saw him return to the American domestic scene to rediscover his passion for racing.

An encouraging 2015 was followed by an outstanding 2016 which again caught the attention of WorldTour teams and a contract for 2017 with Dimension Data.

The second stage of the Santos Tour Down Under saw Morton finish 26th behind a flying Richie Porte (BMC), setting up his teammate Nathan Haas for a fifth placed finish.

Porte lands a big punch on Paracombe
Richie Porte (BMC) staked his claim for a first Santos Tour Down Under title with an explosive performance which delivered him the Stage 2 victory and race lead.

After the stage Morton was happy with how he performed on a finish that didn’t play into his strengths as a pure climber on longer ascents.

“Yeah it feels good,” Morton said. “It was a really hard finish, really punchy. It was like a three to four minute effort just all out so it never feels great.

I was happy with it, we had Haasy (Nathan Haas) there in (fifth), I was just coming up behind him just in case he faltered and he didn’t. For me that sort of finish, it’s not ideal, it’s really like full-gas but I was happy with how I felt.”

Morton is already receiving better vibes than his previous WorldTour experience with Garmin-Sharp.

“It’s a totally different setup,” he said. “There’s a really good group of guys, we all get along pretty well and the team has a really good purpose behind it. It suits me because everyone’s really relaxed.”

Racing in America, Morton may have flown under the radar in Australia in building up his form back to a level where he can slot back in at WorldTour level.

The most notable performance for Morton’s 2017 was the final stage of the Tour of Utah where he attacked from afar to dethrone Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) from the race lead, soloing clear to take the stage and general classification.

Talansky then went on to finish fifth at the Vueta a Espana, ranking the form of Morton and putting into context Morton’s six UCI victories on the North American circuit for that season.

“I think it’s totally different (racing in the US versus World Tour) but what it did do was give me practice at racing again,” he said.

“I think for two years I didn’t really race my bike, I was just surviving. At this level you have to be racing all the time, so the experience helped with that.”

Morton’s uptick in results coincided with his changed mental processes. In 2014 he started eight stage races but only completed two and was nowhere near achieving a result.

In 2016, he had clearly rediscovered his verve for racing and was back at the front of the peloton, attacking spectactularly on the long climbs.

“Last year I was racing for the win every time I rode, it was good to get in touch with that side of racing,” he said. “Not necessarily even going for the win again it’s competing versus surviving, it’s two different things.

“That helps with your preparation, your mental attitude, all of those different things. That ability to fight to be at the front is so important at these types of races, if you’re not doing it all the time you are going to lose.”

Morton is riding in service of Haas at the Tour Down Under but has his sights set on targets further down the line.

“Tour of California is my first really big goal but every race is going to be important to get the experience back at this level and take all the opportunities I get. I’d say every race is equally important.”