Tour de France
Lawson Craddock suffered through the Tour de...

A mother watches her son suffer across France

VeloNews caught up with Lawson Craddock's mother Ellen about her son's dramatic Tour de France that began with a crash and ended in Paris.

PARIS, France (VN) — What’s it like to watch your child suffer on the screen of your television?

It was not easy for Ellen Craddock, Lawson Craddock’s mom.

“It was nerve-racking,” Ellen Craddock told VeloNews. “You see these photos of your child with an eye injury, and blood coming down his face, and then he gets back on his bicycle and finishes. I just hoped he was OK.”

Lawson Craddock crashed hard on the opening stage of the 2018 Tour de France, suffering a cut above his eye and a fracture to his scapula. Images of Craddock’s blood-covered face circulated online after the stage. Despite the injuries Craddock continued to ride, and eventually completed all 20 ensuing stages of the race, often riding at the tail end of the peloton to keep himself from bumping elbows with the other riders. He finished Sunday’s stage in dead last in the overall, 145th place, 4:34 behind winner Geraint Thomas.

Throughout the ordeal, Ellen Craddock followed along on television and social media. She received the occasional text from Lawson telling her that he was OK. She also got more detailed updates from Lawson’s wife, Chelsie, about her son’s condition. She said she trusted the expertise of the EF Education First-Drapac team staff, who cleared Lawson to race.

And she trusted her son’s decision to keep going. After all, watching her son ride through agony is not a new phenomenon for Ellen Craddock. Lawson grew up outside of Houston and began racing bicycles at age 10 alongside his brother Parker, who is two years older. Their father, Tom Craddock, raced downhill mountain bikes. As a child, Lawson often continued to race and train — even when his mother wanted him to stop.

“When he was sick he’d still go to these competitions and I’d go watch him even though he had a full-on cold,” she said. “He was very competitive.”

Lawson Craddock used his media attention during this year’s Tour de France to raise money for the Alkek Velodrome in Houston, where he began his cycling career. As of press time, Craddock’s fundraising had earned nearly $200,000.

The Craddock family was in Paris on Sunday afternoon for the finale of the Tour. After completing the final stage around the Champs-Élysées, Lawson Craddock pedaled to the EF Education First bus, dismounted his bicycle, and delivered long, emotional hugs to his wife, brother, and parents. He smiled and was upbeat, slapping high-fives to his friends and family at the bus.

“It’s pure joy — it’s been an incredibly long three weeks for me,” Craddock said. “I’m really proud of the work that I did to get to the finish.”

The emotion was somewhat different 24 hours earlier, when Craddock finished the individual time trial in Espelette. Craddock was overcome by tears as he pedaled across the finish line, and upon finishing he buried his head in his hands and sobbed.

“A lot of relief right now, for sure,” Craddock said after that finish. “Just seeing the finish line today, I’ll be in Paris tomorrow with my family, and that’s a great achievement for me.”

Ellen Craddock was in Paris to watch Lawson finish his first Tour de France in 2016. She will likely be there for future finishes along the Champs-Élysées. Will the experience make it any easier to watch her son race?

Probably not. But that’s what it means to be the mother of a pro cyclist.

“Every time he gets on that bike I’m on pins and needles, and I can’t lie about it,” she said. “He’s very good about what he does, and at the level he’s at, everyone is a good bike handler. As you can see, bad luck happens.”