“It’s my first time on a road bike from Paris, so it’s a bit funny, but it’s also cool. I love getting back into a racing environment,” said Lachlan Morton (EF Education-EasyPost) Cycling news as he awaited the start of La Clásica Jaén on Monday, some seven months after completing his 18-day Alt Tour de France.
Jaén was also Morton’s first road race since the Route d’Occitanie last June, but he has hardly missed competitive off-road cycling since then. Over the winter, while other pros were resting, Morton rode two strenuous MTB events in South Africa, the Absa Cape Epic and the Munga. Then on Sunday he did another mountain bike race in Spain.
Morton’s foray into the Spanish premiere terrato The race for the pros was due to a last minute call, he said, “because a few days ago one of the guys couldn’t make it. So I came from Girona and I’m going to run today.”
Calling the Clasica Jaén a trip in the dark is therefore no exaggeration, but that has hardly deterred the 30-year-old Australian from cycling in the past. And going to an event like Jaén, he said, is an event where he’s “just excited to be here and I’ll use everything I have. I’ll see how far I can go.”
Before the start of the race, he had no reference point for how his form could be, he admitted. “I finished fourth in the MTB race on Sunday, but it’s hard to translate that to road racing. I didn’t do any intervals or anything, just rode like normal. “
As Morton had alternated between racing on asphalt and off-road for years, it seemed almost inevitable to ask him about the ongoing heated debate on social media and elsewhere about whether gravel segments and terrato have a place in the road race or not.
However, Morton initially said he felt he was “not entitled to give an opinion as I don’t do a lot of road racing“.
With that condition firmly in place, on a personal level, he then added: “I totally agree [gravel]. I think it makes racing more interesting.” But he also acknowledged that this view was partly born from a perspective that was not at all necessarily one that the wider road peloton might have.
As he said, “But that being said, I don’t do it week in and week out, nor do I like building an entire year for one goal and then having a flat tire.”
“So I think events like today (Clásica Jaén) are exciting. But maybe if you put it [gravel] in an event that hasn’t traditionally had that, I can see why people are against it.”
Expanding on his point, he added: “I normally watch these big events on TV, so it’s fun to watch. But I can understand how it could be a nightmarish race.”
As for his program for 2022, Morton said he will continue his unusual mix of mountain biking and road racing. For example, “Next weekend I’m doing an FKT event in Menorca [consisting of] a mountain bike tour of the highlands and the next three or four weekends are mountain bike races as well.”
“Then I will get into road races at Coppi e Bartali and the Tour of the Alps, but mixing that with the Life Time Series in the United States. I also have competitive ambitions there.
Rather than having a particular target, it seems that over the course of the season, Morton takes a broader perspective on events. As he put it, “Basically, I’m not super obsessed with a goal. I just want to enjoy the racing for what it is, and generally the better you ride, the more you enjoy racing.”
As for the Clásica Jaén, Morton finally retired in the second half of the race, as did more than half of the field. “It was a very tough race, he hasn’t focused on road racing for many months and he was missing a bit at the end,” said sporting director Juanma Garate. Cycling news. “But it was good for him to experience this kind of racing all the same. For sure he can use this knowledge later.”