Lachlan Morton has covered over 3300km on his Alt Tour. While eyes have been on the drama of the professional peloton, Morton has been quietly tapping away at his own Tour de France, raising over £200,000 for World Bicycle Relief so far.
He may be going at the Tour route alone, but, like the peloton who have been cursed with crashes, Lachlan too has faced his own challenges during his monumental ride.
The 132 hours of riding the Australian rider has done so far have taken their toll on his body, with knee and foot pain being at the forefront of Lachlan’s ailments. With no physio or team doctor, he’s had to take matters into his own hands, switching to flat pedals and sandals last week to relieve the strain on his knees. “It’s all ticking along pretty nicely, I’m having a good old time,” he explained in a general update back on day four of his Alt Tour. “I’m in sandals today, which are a bit of a lifesaver for me,” he said.
The longest stage of his Tour so far came on day 5, and setting off in the dark, the lone adventurer completed 370km in his new kicks. With his final transfer to Paris being 500km, Morton was forced to put in some big shifts early on in his Alt Tour to keep ahead of the fast approaching bunch.
He reached his campsite after 14 hours of riding that day, only to discover that there were no showers, so he washed using the water bottle on his bike. A far cry from the hotel en suite that his colleagues would have been treated to.
After being grateful for his sandals early on, more miles and challenging terrain meant that they began to give Lachlan blisters and he was forced to innovate by cutting off the front straps to relieve pressure on his feet. Fuelled by mostly baguettes and couscous, Lachlan had to push on to Le Grand-Bornand, heaving his camping gear over mountain passes in a valiant effort to remain ahead.
As the racers settled down for a rest day on Monday, a 300km ride awaited the maverick rider, one that would be an important gain over the bunch. Lachlan switched back to cycling shoes for this mammoth effort, but many days of rain had given his feet little chance to heal. Mercifully, warm weather in the south allowed Morton to “air everything out”, able to sleep out of his bivvy and underneath his sleeping bag.
Morton has twice ascended Mont Ventoux, as the peloton will do in a couple of days time. While they can expect wild fans and busy roads, he was greeted by blue skies and a deserted landscape. “I was there pretty much by myself,” he said. “It felt like a religious moment, it's not so often you get this mountain all to yourself.” Rewarded at the end of another trying day with a meal of watermelon, prosciutto, crisps and a cider, Morton could sleep peacefully knowing that he’d increased his lead over the peloton to 850km.
Holding down an average of 25kmph so far, the lone rider looks to be on course to beat the peloton to Paris. But, with that being said, there is still a long way to go in his Alt Tour. Over 1000 miles still remain, and over some tough, mountainous terrain. The long transfers towards the end of the race are going to add additional challenges, with Morton having to cover extra ground in order to stay ahead.
Patching tubes with mattress repair kits, sleeping under the stars and scavenging whatever food he can find from local cafes and shops, Lachlan has been truly at one with the French landscape, stripping cycling back to its purest form.
It’s going to be a monumental achievement for the EF Education Nippo rider when he reaches the Champs Elysees and we’ll be watching closely to see if can get to the city ahead of the yellow jersey.
Anyone wanting to follow the Lachlan's progress can do so via the live map here.