Lachlan Morton, almost rock of Gibraltar.
This is the face of Lachlan Morton moments after collapsing on the dry grass at the edge of the road just past the finish line.
This was supposed to be his showcase day in the Tour of California as he hunts for a possible return to a WorldTour squad after leaving Garmin two years ago and dropping two steps down to the Continental level and Jelly Belly.
It was supposed to be redemption, the return of the prodigy, not that he was scripting it that way but it was a natural narrative.
He’s a whippet climber who just won the overall in the Tour of the Gila but this was a far bigger showcase, his portfolio piece, his Linkedin Hey Look At This Wattage, Baby!
He admitted to having some nerves before the start of the stage which would finish with a summit showdown atop Gibraltar Road. On instinct, his legs feeling good, but still riding in a large group of climbers at 4.5 kilometrs from the finish, he decided to attack.
He went and opened up a small gap with Peter Stetina (BMC) joining him in the move. The duo caught the 16 year old kid Powless from the Axel Merckx Finishing School for World Tour riders.
On the queen stage, the signature climb, the final exam and recital for team directors; on a climb he had never ridden before, with a bigger contract on the line, Morton attacked.
He went too early.
While it was still a fine performance that showed his talents on 10% and 14% gradients, it wasn’t enough to stop Stetina from pulling away and it wasn’t enough to prevent stage winner Julian Alaphilippe from blasting by at warp speed in the final two kilometers
Thus, the look of fatigue and anguish.