Craddock heading home after nasty TDU crash

Lawson Craddock is banged up after a nasty crash Tour Down Under but happy to be heading home to recover after a rough start to the season

Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin) is heading home following three nights in an Australian hospital recovering from a harrowing crash in stage 4 at the Santos Tour Down Under.

The 22-year-old Texan crashed heavily Friday in the early kilometers of the stage, just as the peloton was picking up speed and coming over some rollers as the day’s main breakaway was forming.

In a freak accident, Craddock evidently punctured his front tire, then bounded into a drainage ditch, with his front wheel collapsing, sending him catapulting over his handlebars. One rider who saw the crash said, “It looked real nasty. I could see him flying over his bike.” Craddock suffered a broken wrist, rib, and sternum, injuries that kept him in the hospital for observation for three days.

In an email to VeloNews, Craddock said he was due to fly back to Texas overnight Tuesday.

“I’ve definitely been better. I spent three days in the hospital before finally getting released,” Craddock wrote. “I should arrive [home] tomorrow night, and then I’ll start the long road to recovery. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be too bad.”

Team doctors still are not sure how long it will take before Craddock can return to training and racing. Speaking to VeloNews earlier in the Tour Down Under, the second-year pro outlined ambitious goals for the 2015 season, including an increased focus on one-week races and a return to the Amgen Tour of California, where he was third overall last year.

“It’s hard losing a teammate during a race, when he’s sleeping alone at a hospital, not sure when he can go home,” said Giant-Alpecin teammate Koen de Kort. “With a broken sternum, everything hurts, including breathing.”

Despite the severity of his injuries, team officials were quietly breathing a sigh of relief, especially after hearing more details of the crash.

“Any crash can be dangerous, and from the sounds of it, this could have been even worse,” said Giant-Alpecin sport director Addy Engels. “He’s young, so he has a lot of time to recover. There is no pressure to return. The most important thing is that he becomes healthy again.”