Craddock suffers through TDF cobbles: ‘Tough is an understatement’
On the Tour’s first rest day, the American is last-place overall, the lanterne rouge. Although he was disappointed not to be able to contribute to his EF Education First-Drapac team’s efforts in Sunday’s stage, he expects to keep recovering and help when the mountain stages begin in earnest Tuesday.
Unfortunately for his EF team, Rigoberto Uràn could have used an extra teammate in stage 9. The Colombian GC leader, who was second in last year’s Tour, crashed 30 kilometers from the finish in Roubaix and ended up losing 1:55 to winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo). Craddock said he’d hoped to contribute to the team effort on the stage, perhaps in the early kilometers, but all he could manage to do was dangle off the back of the field.
“It was really disappointing for me that I wasn’t able to be there when that happened,” he said about Uràn’s crash. “Before this race started, I had an eye towards this stage and I was really excited to give the cobbles a good crack. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for me.”
He said that as the stage reached the cobblestones, he couldn’t stay with the group. As he yo-yoed off the back of the field, he struggled with the pain as well as the frustration of not being part of the team effort.
“Tough is an understatement today,” he added. “For me mentally though, it’s just the fact that I couldn’t really help the team out today. I really started to get into the mindset this morning of being prepared to fight and really help the team out as much I could but unfortunately, the nerves got the better of me today and for me, it just ended being survival.”
The 26-year-old from Texas left stage 9 battered by the rough pavé of Northern France. However, it afforded a glimmer of encouragement too.
“I have a lot of hope that I can recover in the next few days,” he said. “Especially after tomorrow, we have a rest day. I’m really encouraged by the fact that we made it this far, and I expect myself to rebound a little bit and start helping out, which is why I came here.”
He pointed out that, although the stages through the Alps this week and the Pyrenees in the Tour’s final week won’t be easy, the racing will be a bit more controlled.
“There are definitely more difficult stages but they’re also different,” he said. “The stress level isn’t quite there. The hierarchy, especially after Tuesday, will be set. We’ll know who are the big GC favorites. And then it will, of course, be big groups full of sprinters and domestiques where the only goal is to make it to the finish.
“I hope to not be in those groups but having those there as insurance, that makes me feel pretty good.”
Dane Cash contributed to this report from Roubaix, France.