• Lachlan Morton during the Tour of California (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) is about to tackle his first ever Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana. It's been a long road for the young Australian from Port Macquarie all the way to Spain and certainly not one without its ups and downs.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

19 Aug 2017 - 3:50 PM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2017 - 4:31 PM

Morton, 25, is preparing for his first attempt at a Grand Tour after making his comeback to the WorldTour this season. He took a few years racing in the less pressurised environment of the American scene after burning out during his original stint at the top level with Garmin-Sharp.

Ahead of what shapes as the biggest test of his career, Morton spoke to Cycling Central about how the experience of World Tour racing has been this time around.

"Much better. I’m much more experienced and much more mature. I think I’ve got the right motivation and reasons for doing it now.

"I’m a lot more relaxed with it. I never thought I would come back to the World Tour so it all feels like a bonus. I’m really enjoying it."

This new, re-invigorated version of Morton can already be judged by results alone to be far more successful than his 2014 season, where he only completed two of the eight stage races he entered, with his best result of the year a 36th at the Herald Sun Tour.

This year, he's been much better, he's finished eighth overall at the Tour of Oman, before backing that up with an unlucky seventh at the Tour of California. 

"It’s been good," said Morton, "I always knew it would be a tough transition to make, going back to the World Tour but it took a bit less time than I thought it would, which was really nice.

Morton back in the competitive mindset
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.

"I have had a lot of WorldTour races this season and I feel like I have been able to make more of an impact on the races that I ever did before, whether it be helping the team or getting my own opportunity. I think it has been a good season so far."

Morton had some key goals on his agenda at the start of the season, with the first big personal mission being the Tour of California. He finished a creditable 7th overall at the American race - it would have been a lot higher if he hadn't had to change his bike twice during the time-trial.

However, the seven stage race is a very different beast to the Vuelta a España for a rider like Morton, whose previous career in the WorldTour saw him sometimes struggle to complete week-long races.  

"To me, taking on a Grand Tour is totally unknown. My biggest goal is to finish it, so I guess that also means surviving it. I do hope I will get my own chances during the race though.

"It’s hard to set a specific goal. I want to finish the race and I really want to be a big part of the team. I will help out anywhere I can and hopefully, I can be in good enough shape to take any chance I may get."

Morton is renowned for his strength climbing in the high mountains, which are thankfully in plentiful supply at the Vuelta. 

He won't go in as a leader at the race, a marked difference from when he raced in the US, where he went into almost every event as a favourite and often converted upon that promise - winning races like the Tour of Utah and the Tour of the Gila - but Morton is keen to move on from past glories.

"I love those races, for sure," he said. "But the reason why I don’t do those races anymorethatause I want to do these races, like the Vuelta. If I had stayed in the US, to do Utah again, I don’t think I would have the same motivation to do it.

"I’m not one of those riders who just want to do the same race again and again. I’m really excited to be here [at the Vuelta] now."