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Craddock hopes Utah success will lead to a Vuelta start

Lawson Craddock hopes a strong ride at the Tour of Utah will lead to a start at the Vuelta a España.

During the summer of 2018 Lawson Craddock mesmerized American fans during his heroic ride during the Tour de France. After breaking his clavicle in the opening stage, Craddock overcame the pain of the injury to finish the race, grinding out each painful kilometer despite his injury.

When the race was over, Craddock used the attention generated by his ride to raise $380,000 to repair a velodrome in his hometown of Houston.

A year later, Lawson Craddock’s future in cycling’s WorldTour is unknown. Just 27, Craddock told VeloNews that he does not know what his racing plans are for 2020.

Craddock has come to the Tour of Utah this year searching for a victory. His last win came at the 2013 Belgian race Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux.

Craddock attacked in the final kilometers of stage 3 into North Salt Lake City. Photo: Casey B. Gibson cbgphoto.com

“So many times in this sport you need everything to go absolutely right and then you also need a little bit of luck too,” Craddock told VeloNews. “I hope it will come soon. Having these close calls doesn’t deter me away, it keeps me motivated to keep searching for it.”

Craddock has been close in Utah. He finished second in the opening prologue, and then second again on the first road stage into North Logan City; the result placed him in the yellow leader’s jersey.

While Craddock lost the jersey on the long climb to Powder Mountain, he has continued to race with aggression in Utah. On Thursday’s stage 3 he attacked in the waning kilometers and nearly took the stage win into North Salt Lake City. Only a late surge by leader Ben Hermans denied him the victory.

“I was part of a winning team in Colombia for the team time trial, which is pretty special but it’s different to be able to raise your arms at the end of a race,” Craddock said. “I have definitely been in search of that, I’ve been pretty close this week and a lot of other times in my career too.”

Craddock is racing here in Utah with the motivation of disappointment as well. In July he was left off of EF Education First’s Tour de France team. Craddock was hoping to make his third Tour de France start, but in the final week before the race, EF management chose another rider.

Rather than sulk Craddock trained for the second half of the season and spent time with his nine-month-old daughter.

“It was extremely disappointing. I felt like I could have been a great addition, not to say that they didn’t take a strong team but I think it goes to show you the true depth that we have at EF Education First,” Craddock said. “It took the drive home and me seeing my daughter smiling to get over it.”

Craddock dove straight back into training, traveling to Utah a couple of weeks early for an altitude camp and to preview the Utah course. Craddock hopes that a strong ride in Utah could add him to the team’s Vuelta a España roster. Right now he is listed on the team’s preliminary start list for the Spanish grand tour.

Craddock is a talented climber and time trialist who also excels in hilly terrain. The all-around skill set, when matched with his experience in the sport, has made him a valuable teammate at EF Education First.

“It’s definitely a unique feeling, helping out your teammate and then crossing the line and seeing that they have won. That’s something for me I hold really special, when you know that you’ve played a big part in that success,” Craddock said. “Over the years I’ve changed as a rider. I think this year I personally have taken a big step in that [supporting] roll and I look forward to keep continuing to progress and grow in that.”

Two stages remain before the Tour of Utah is crowned and teams are announced for the final grand tour of the season.