Marked man Morton

by James Hendicott
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SWORDS cyclist Eoin Morton has admitted he’ll be a “marked man” coming into the 2017 edition of the round-Ireland cycle tour the An Post Ras, but hopes to take another stage victory along the way.
He became the first man with a day job to win a stage of the Ras since 2013 when he took stage 2 last year.
And he told GazetteSport that his UCD team spend much of their year – from October onwards – preparing specifically for the Ras, and hopes that might give them an advantage come the race’s start on May.
“My name is on the radar after last year,” he explained. “I expect the competition will be watching me and won’t let me get away too easily. It was stage two that I won last year, and there was a similar scenario in stage five that went differently, probably because of stage two. I think this might be similar.”
Morton was speaking at the launch of the Ras, which will take in several stages in the hills of Donegal in 2017, making it one of the toughest courses of recent years.
Morton admitted that beyond the stage win, his main aim in such circumstances is “to make the finish,” and he doesn’t expect to keep pace in the hills.
Having recently won Cycling Ireland’s Rider of the Year Award for 2016, Morton explains that his dad, former Ireland international cyclist Peter Morton, is still his main sponsor. “He’s a huge supporter and really proud of my cycling,” Morton tells us.
“I started late at 22, and perhaps I could have been a pro if I’d start a few years earlier.
“I got a great job, a great education and a mortgage, and that kind of stability is fantastic compared to the world of pro-cycling. I still train 20-25 hours a week, which is as much as anyone does.
“The main difference is I train by riding to and from work, maybe an hour in and two or three hours back every day. It doesn’t give the same kind of recovery times that a pro rider would get, but that’s the main difference. It is possible to compete.”
That’s particularly the case when the Ras is a key focus around Morton and his team, as it has very much become.
“Every other big race we do is about four days,” he concluded. “This one is eight and it’s our focus from October. The support on the sidelines from spectators is what really pulls you through.”
The 65th edition of An Post Ras runs from May 21 to May 28, starting in Dublin Castle and finishing in Skerries. The climbs over Donegal’s Glengesh Pass and Mamore Gap are expected to be critical in determining the victor.

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