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Stage 17 from Aracena to Monasterio de Tentudía saw the riders take on a 160km route with undulating roads and a second category climb to the finish. Craddock was part of a large breakaway that went up the road after about 40 kilometers and made it all the way to the line.
With a tough uphill finish and some strong climbers in his group, Craddock decided to try and go it alone with about 15 kilometers remaining. He held a small gap of about 17 seconds at one point as the chasers organized behind.
It looked like the Texan might be able to go all the way to the line, but his hopes of taking a stage win were snuffed out when he was caught by former teammate Rigoberto Urán and others with 100 meters until the flamme rouge.
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Craddock tried to hang with the trio for as long as he could but he had nothing left when Clément Champoussin attacked the group and ignited a string of counter-attacks. In the end, he finished 1:30 on Urán, who went on to win the stage.
“I feel like I’m constantly getting into these breakaways where I’m not the strongest climber, and I’m never the strongest sprinter,” Craddock said after the stage. “There always seem to be just one or two guys that are just better than me in every aspect. I have to do the same thing as I did the other day, I just have to play my cards and rely on strengths, which is to go early. It’s another day of so close yet heartbreak in the final. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
It is the second time during this year’s Vuelta a España that he has come within touching distance of a stage victory after going to the line in a breakaway on stage 5 into Bilbao.
On that day, Marc Soler got the jump on the rest of the breakaway and managed to hold off the chase to win by just four seconds. Craddock had been the chasing group behind Soler.