As the Tour de France enters its final act after the second rest day, one EF Education-Nippo rider can put his feet up, content with a job well done. That rider – Lachlan Morton – has just completed his Alt Tour, riding the entire Tour de France route, including all transfers, unsupported.
That meant 5,510 km, instead of the Tour route’s 3,383 km. 65,500 metres of vertical gain rather than the Tour’s 42,200 m. 18 days of riding without a day’s rest, versus the peloton’s 21 and two rest days. And all while sleeping under the stars, fixing his own punctures, taking care of his own mechanicals, and keeping himself fed and watered.
The Australian rider, who has approached the sport from his own unique perspective throughout his career, set off from Brittany just after the Tour began and quickly built a lead over the race, cycling longer days and banking distance to give him enough of a buffer over the peloton for the final 700 km+ transfer north to Paris.
He ended up building more of a buffer than that, though. A week in, he got through two stages in a day. By the time he got to Mont Ventoux, he had 600 km on the peloton. And he set off on his final leg to Paris with a plan to ride through the night and arrive five days ahead of the Tour de France proper.
Early on Tuesday morning, Morton reached the outskirts of Paris and continued onward onto one of cycling’s most hallowed grounds. Carrying the gear that he has borne from the start, Morton rode laps of the cobbled boulevard of the Champs-Élysées, his legs spinning out the final rotations of many, many, many rotations.
On his sore, calloused feet Morton wears a pair of green Birkenstocks with two of the straps hacked off – a footwear solution that he was forced to improvise after experiencing knee pain with his cycling shoes early in the Alt Tour. For the past two weeks he’s eaten at restaurants and on roadsides, missed meals, and missed sleep. He’s ridden 120 km on a flat Di2 battery and suffered numerous punctures. He’s been rained on and he’s been roasted by the sun.
And finally, after more than 5,500 kilometres of solitude and soul-searching, in the pre-dawn Parisian light, he’s done.
The Alt Tour has been a fundraising initiative for World Bicycle Relief, a charity that provides bikes to people in need of transport in developing countries. The organisation’s utilitarian Buffalo Bikes provide access to education and employment, expanding horizons and improving outcomes for recipients.
To date, Morton’s ride has raised over £380,000 for World Bicycle Relief, along with a 500 bike donation from both Rapha and EF Education First, meaning that more than 3,000 lives will be changed forever.
You can donate here.