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American Lawson Craddock will ride for Cannondale-Garmin in 2016. After spending the past two years with Giant-Alpecin, Craddock, 23, will join the American team as a support rider for GC leaders Andrew Talansky and Pierre Roland, as well as a protected GC rider in weeklong stage races.
Craddock joins an impressive list of riders that have signed with Cannondale, including Rolland, Colombian Rigoberto Urán, Dane Matti Breschel, Canadian Mike Woods, and Dutch sprinter Wouter Wippert.
A podium finisher at the 2010 junior Paris-Roubaix, Craddock turned pro last year, finishing third overall at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. His 2015 season started with a dramatic crash at the Santos Tour Down Under in January, resulting in a broken wrist, rib, and sternum.
The Texas native returned to racing in March, but struggled to find form through the first half of the season. He recently rode the Vuelta a España in support of Tom Dumoulin and John Degenkolb. Dumoulin won two stages and led the race for six days, with Craddock often the last man with him on difficult climbing stages; Degenkolb won the final stage, in Madrid.
“Lawson has proven to be a very versatile rider,” said Cannondale manager Jonathan Vaughters. “I’ve followed Lawson since he was a junior and always thought he was a big talent. But his work for Dumoulin showed me he is also a selfless team player when needed. Ambitious and selfless … Can’t beat that.”
Asked about how he envisions his role at Cannondale-Garmin, Craddock said he would be there to learn, as well as to strive for his own results as the opportunities present themselves.
“I’d like to start getting more personal results,” he said. “I think I have a lot of room to grow as a cyclist. I think I can be a support rider in grand tours. I’d like to be there, to learn as much as I can from the older guys who have been competitive over three weeks. With how the Cannondale team races, they go into some of these harder weeklong races, like Catalunya or Suisse, with a couple of options. Everyone gets opportunities, and they help each other out. I think there will be opportunities to prove myself.”
Craddock was the final rider chosen for the six-man U.S. national team at the Richmond world championships, where he will compete in both the time trial and road race.
“I’m happy to make the team, it’s been a big goal of mine from the beginning of the year,” Craddock said. “I think I’m capable of a good result in time trial. I think I’ve shown that in longer TTs, when the power really matters, I’m able to hold it for an hour. I’ve done well in the past, and I’ll be giving that a good shot. We’ll be seeing how my body adapts, after the Vuelta, but I think I can hit both the time trial and and road race with good form.”
Signing with Cannondale will also reunite Craddock with his close friend and sometimes roommate, Nate Brown. The two rode together for three years at Bontrager-Livestrong. USA Cycling’s athletics director, Jim Miller, coaches both riders. At the 2013 elite national time trial championship, Brown finished third and Craddock fourth — the difference between them was less than one second.
“We’ve been teammates off and on since we were 16,” Craddock said. “When we went to Europe, we moved in together. I know I’ll be able to work well with Nate. I’m really happy to join forces with him again.”