Morton's EF teammate, American Alex Howes looked all set to compete alongside the Australian in South Africa before a broken pinky finger ruined his plans, as he was left unable to grip the handlebars properly on tough terrain.
With riders only allowed to compete in teams of two, Morton was left to embark on a search for a new teammate, eventually leading him to Kenyan rider Kenneth Karaya, another multi-discipline cyclist who brings good form into the event having beaten Cape Epic legend David Kinjah to win the Sokoke Forest Mountain Bike title in June.
Karaya is a member of Netherlands-based Team Amani, who have sister clubs in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda with a focus on creating opportunities for young East African riders to train and race in Europe.
Morton expressed his excitement to ride alongside Karaya after the initial disappointment of Howes' withdrawal, adding the process had given him a renewed perspective on his opportunities as a professional cyclist.
“Alex [Howes] and I were devastated when we heard he’d be unable to race,” Morton recounted in a statement from EF.
“It wasn’t easy to find motivation to search for a new partner when we’ve been on this journey so long. Kenneth [Karaya] has been racing with Team Amani, whose programme I’m familiar with. I know they really need racing opportunities.
"So, I figured it would be a perfect match and reached out hoping it would work out. I’m really looking forward to racing with Kenneth and it gives me a renewed appreciation for what a privilege it is to have to opportunity to race here.”
Karaya spoke to the enormity of the opportunity to race in such an important event alongside a rider he recognises as a legend of the sport.
“For me, to race the Absa Cape Epic is a huge opportunity! It's something I really used to dream about,” Karaya added.
“Racing beside a legend, like Lachlan [Morton], is really unbelievable. What I know for sure is that this will be an unforgettable experience, that it will be hard and that I will do my best.”
SBS OnDemand is the place to watch all the highlights from the 2021 Cape Epic, with all the highlights, thrills and spills from one of the most renowned mountain-bike events in the world. We will have daily highlights from the race, available on SBS OnDemand, the Cycling Central website and via SBS Cycling Central social media.