As the European spring delivers better riding conditions, the racing schedule is attempting to recover from global COVID-19 lockdown measures.
One of the riders making the most of available protocol events, is EF Education-Nippo's multi-talented Lachlan Morton. The Australian rider loved grinding gravel and was a keen mountain biker in his youth.
Reengaging with knobby tires and huge climbing gears, Lachlan entered the Barcelona round of the Copa Catalan International BTT series. This is a localized Catalan series, featuring five events in some of Spain’s most renowned cycling cities, with a sixth in Valnord, Andorra.
The Copa Catalan event in Barcelona used a 4.5km loop, skillfully selected by organizers. It used the natural gradient and forest available in Barcelona’s suburbs,
Whereas very few professional road cyclists would risk the injury exposure of racing an XC event, Morton’s fondness of mountain biking isn’t a novel curiosity.
He was scheduled to race the grueling Cape Epic mountain bike race in 2020 before the global pandemic scuttled such ambitions. Morton was going to partner with teammate and friend Alex Howes, as an EF Education-Nippo mountain bike team.
Although France’s Victor Koretzky won the Copa Catalan’s Barcelona round, followed by Belgian riders, Daan Soete and Jens Schuermans, Morton still had a great experience in his debut XCO race. He classified 59th among the overall men’s finishes, and 32nd in the elite category, after 32km of racing.
"First experience in a XC race yesterday in Barcelona. Had a blast," said Morton on his Instagram page. "If you can safely support local races and events, regardless of your fitness, experience, and motivation, you should."
And the bike? As an EF Education-Nippo rider, Lachlan used the team’s frame sponsor, Cannondale, to supply a Scalpel-Si for the Barcelona race.