Last weekend, Lachlan Morton thought he broke the Everesting record. The organizers of the challenge…
Lachlan’s return to racing
Lachlan and trainer Nate Wilson discuss his Tour of Alps training plan
“I’ve just been training in Boulder, Colorado. Doing my usual thing.”
Lachlan Morton’s “usual thing” is climbing impossibly high altitudes, riding for hours (and sometimes days) on end, and breaking records — paired with his consistently calm demeanor and clear passion for the sport. If you followed any of his alternative adventures in the past year or his career in general, you know by now that pushing his limits and boundaries is most definitely his “thing.”
Morton’s an anomaly, staying fairly quiet on social media and not making a fuss about his accolades — despite the fact that they are in fact monumental achievements in cycling. So when we heard that he was on the Tour of Alps roster, we inquired about how he adjusted his training plan for the 13,000 meters of climbs he’ll face throughout Austria and Italy.
The Australian pro offers huge credit to Nate Wilson, a performance manager at EF Education-NIPPO, for adding far more structure in his training than he’s been used to. “He’s the first coach I’ve worked with in a number of years. It’s been a nice new challenge,” said Morton.
After the Giro last year, Morton and Wilson sat down for coffee and discussed what exactly he wanted to accomplish in 2021.
“We talked about where he felt he was lacking physically. I shared my ideas with him on how we could fill in those gaps, and they made sense to him, so we began working together,” said Wilson.
Morton has been home in Boulder, Colorado since Christmas, mostly riding solo and occasionally bringing a friend along in the mountains, especially when it was snowing and harder for him to get motivated. Aside from an occasional riding buddy, his time is spent mostly with family, his wife Rachel, and their dog, Toad. And of course these days, Nate Wilson (albeit virtually).
“Training Lachlan has been great. He’s a very easy and enjoyable rider for me to work with,” said Wilson.
Surely a special kind of rider like Lachlan would need a training plan catered to his unique style, but Wilson argues that it’s not too divergent. For cross-training, Morton runs once a week and occasionally lifts weights and two or three days a week, and Wilson will focus on more specific training plans that are geared towards the demands he needs to meet for road racing.
“It can look a little bit different than some of the other riders, because on the more open days he’s often on the mountain bike or doing a long adventure ride, but the general philosophy is not that different. We have those days that are important to try and nail, and the rest of the time is generally about aerobic maintenance and setting the rider up for success,” said Wilson.
The return to racing is tough for any professional rider, no matter how seasoned you are or how much training you’ve done to prepare in the off-season. The adjustment back can often be tricky, and these two have prepared for all of the demanding summits and terrains that the Tour of Alps will offer up throughout its five grueling stages.
“When we agree on the underlying philosophy from the start, it’s easy for me and the rider just has to do the hard work,” added Wilson. “Because Lachlan has spent a lot of time chronically at altitude, he can train a bit more aggressively up high than someone else might be able to and have a good response to it.”
Last year’s Giro offered plenty of climbs and the Tour of Alps will surely rival that despite it being a much shorter event. This race is seen as almost a precursor to the Giro d’Italia, which will take place in May. That said, it’s certainly not a race to overlook with stages that are incredibly taxing and difficult on the body — no matter what kind of riding shape you’re in. Fortunately, Colorado offers a similar environment and Wilson says a course like the Tour of Alps perfectly suits Morton both physiologically and psychologically. Brutal climbs and opportunities to challenge oneself in these mountainous regions? Bring it on.
“I’m hoping to find some racing legs and really help the guys in the hills,” said Morton. The 29-year-old pro adds that the hardest part of the race will be keeping up to speed with the other riders who already have the racing momentum going. What he’s most excited about for the event is seeing his fellow teammates.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with all the guys and the simplicity of racing life,” said Morton. He’ll be racing with Will Barta for the very first time and is excited to have a new rider to work with in the peloton. “It’s always nice having some new guys around for some fresh energy,” said Morton.
Wilson is also hopeful about the race and looks forward to the stages to come. “For Lachlan I can say that he is just excited to race. It is his first race of the season, and that is always a unique shock no matter how prepared you are. However, it’s the kind of course he enjoys. We expect him to just race hard and contribute to the team in any way he can, whether that’s pulling in the front on climbs, or going in a breakaway.”