- Tadej Pogacar’s second Tour de France victory in less than a year could herald a new era of cycling
- Beyond the youthful domination of the Slovenes on the most esteemed event in professional cycling, there was another “Parallel Tour”.
- It was Lachlan Morton’s Alt Tour. One of the most impressive solo bike rides in many years
The greatest rider in this year’s Tour de France is not in the general classification.
Although he didn’t have a bib or position in the peloton, an Australian did what many thought was impossible.
Lachlan Morton’s idea was partly romanticism, partly madness. It would trace the spirit of those original Tour de France riders, that we were extreme lone athletes, instead of team riders.
How? ‘Or’ What? By overlapping all the Tour de France road, plus 60% more distance, in a few days less, than the official race.
Make the Tour de France even more difficult
Morton would take all his food and night gear. There would be no team support. No mechanics. No cooks. No healer. No physiotherapist.
His Alt Tour Cannondale road bike would be heavily loaded with additional camping gear, food and cycling clothing.
Beyond weight, the frame bags would also disrupt the inherent aerodynamics, increasing drag.
Start with the Tour – and beat them
Morton was attempting a race of extraordinary distance and elevation. And by making it even more difficult, by depriving his bike of lightness and aerodynamics.
Tuesday morning, the enigmatic Australian pro drove on the avenue des Champs-Élysées cobblestones, in Paris. It was 5:30 am.
There were a few supporters to greet him, but this moment of greatness came modestly against the backdrop of Morton’s feat.
Morton kept his word. He had beaten the pro peloton of the Tour de France in Paris. Almost six days. The driving statistics he recorded are incredible.
In 18 days, Morton traveled 5510 km, or 220 hours. He climbed the equivalent of 60 Table Mountains, along the way.
It was Morton’s daily routine, walking enormous distances. Then camp and do your own admin (Photo: Rapha)
Do it the hard way
Far from the pampered peloton, Morton camped when he was not riding. Experience the lightest bike packaging and riding lifestyle imaginable.
He ate in cafes. And driven constantly, at an average of just over 300 km per day.
Driving 5,510 km, much of this distance crossing the Alps, is physically and mentally exhausting. Especially when you’re doing it alone, on a bike loaded with camping supplies and gear.
Australian grain is real with Morton from Port Macquarie. Looking for more comfort, he started riding in sandals a few days after his Alt Tour. Occasionally, locals would join him for part of the journey, providing him with company.
Lachlan Morton, in Paris, almost a week before the Tour de France (Photo: Rapha)
A ride for charity – but also, himself
But above all, Morton was on a journey of discovery. Tracing the heritage of these original Tour de France riders. And prove that you can cycle a lot of distance without assistance.
In addition to his personal development as a cyclist and endurance adventurer, Morton’s Alt Tour has a worthy charitable element.
Staying true to his promise, to ride this massive Alt Tour route unassisted and make it to Paris several days before the Tour, Morton collected an incredible R10m for the World Bicycle Relief charity.
To stay comfortable, Rapha wore bike clothes, in Morton’s kit bag. Notice the Lindt chocolate (Photo: Rapha)