Lachlan Morton may still wear the EF Education-EasyPost pink of his WorldTour squad, but the 31-year-old is most definitely on his own program. Ever since the team launched its 'alt tour' in 2019, Morton has been racing on dirt more than the road, and he has the freedom to not race, too. He's completed the Tour de France as a one-stage bikepacking trip, set an unofficial fastest known time on the Colorado Trail, and ridden from Munich to the Ukraine border to raise money for refugees.
Yet, the Aussie's love of racing hasn't died entirely, and there is one event high on his bucket list of 'wants to win.' That's the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race, which kicks off in Colorado Saturday. Morton has finished second and third in Leadville before and hopes that 2023 is the year for the top step. He's got a two-time champion — and seemingly unbeatable competition — in Keegan Swenson to upset, but his prep has never been so dialed.
Nor, he thinks, has his bike. Morton's brand new Cannondale Scalpel HT Hi-MOD Ultimate is the ultimate ... Leadville bike. Admittedly tweaked for this race and this race alone, Morton's rig may be fugly but it works for him. "I think this race is somewhere between a mountain bike race and a road race so it’s just to get a bit more of an efficient position," he says. "It’s a little bit more aero. It’s not really about the aero though, it’s about getting your body in a position that’s more efficient."
Morton's spent the last few months tweaking the position, racing the bike in two gravel races in East Africa. He's come up with some pretty unique geometry, including a 640mm bar with a 145mm adjustable stem slammed to an alarming 70 degrees. It's as close to the same reach as drop bars without being drop bars. "It feels pretty similar to a road bike, which is nice," Morton says.
His entire cockpit might be the most curated part of the bike — he's got old-school bar ends for standing up on the course's most stout climbs and tape on the bars where aero bars would be (they're banned) for the flat sections. "It saves your upper body a bit because you can be in a more aggressive position."
Morton's other big flex is a 42t chainring, bigger even than the 40t that Swenson is running. It should be fine, he says, if he's got the legs when the last massive climb of the race arrives around mile 80.
Aero bars are banned at Leadville; most pros have added tape for comfort instead.
A 42t chainring is a serious flex.
Another way to shave weight? Take off one side of the SPDs.
Morton will start with 18 psi in the rear and 17 in the front "which will probably look more like 20/19 by the finish."
Morton still rides for EF Education-EasyPost but doesn't see any road racing these days.