After more than three hours and an arduous climb to the finish, it came down to an inch or less.
“I’m not normally one to look at the finish. But I had a feeling. A few minutes before the start I went down and rode the last 300 meters,” Lachlan Morton said in the post-race press conference, after he’d won the Tour of Utah stage 5 by about an inch.
“I wish you hadn’t,” said the runner-up, Hayden McCormick.
Morton bested McCormick (Team BridgeLane) in a two-up sprint for the stage win after rolling in the breakaway all day and dropping their companions on the day’s final climb into Canyons Village. Morton took a perfect line into the finishing bends, though McCormick put on a late charge to make things tight.
“I thought, if I just commit to this corner and go… And it turns out, yeah, it was about a meter too late for [McCormick]. Very perfect timing for me. I wish I could say I planned it, but sometimes luck just falls that way,” Morton said.
The victory is Morton’s first professional road win in three seasons — the last of which came in Utah as well in the form of overall victory in 2016 — and stands as a stark counterpoint to the other contests Morton has lined up for this year. He’s taken on a bold program outside of professional road races, racing the Dirty Kanza, the ultra-endurance contest GBDuro, and, last weekend, the Leadville 100. Across surfaces and disciplines, Morton has been a revelation. He finished third at Leadville, fourth at the Dirty Kanza, and won the GBDuro … with a time of 104 hours.
Not exactly ideal road race training.
“It’s amazing to see the versatility of Lachy this year. From camping in a ditch in the rain to being on the podium in Leadville to winning here in Utah,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “It’s fun to see his love for cycling of all types come alive!”
It’s taken a little time for Morton to find his road legs after such long-distance efforts.
“I wasn’t feeling very good in the first few days. I’d had a big few months, and I thought I’d done irreversible damage. Leading into this race I thought I was going well — then I started racing. But last night all of a sudden it just clicked,” Morton said. “I had a decent result in Leadville, but I didn’t feel great. The first few days here I knew I was missing that 10 percent you need to win here… I knew I had it in there. It was just a matter of doing everything right.”
And on Saturday in Utah, he did everything just right.
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