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Harrogate, U.K. (VN) – Lawson Craddock tore his way to sixth place in the world championships individual time trial on Wednesday, finishing just 13 seconds off a podium slot.
Craddock’s fast ride capped off a quiet late season surge for Craddock, who rode aggressively at the Tour of Utah and Vuelta a España for EF Education First.
The string of solid results comes after a July of absence. After surviving rather than racing through the 2018 Tour de France having fractured his shoulder in the opening stage, the Texan was left bitterly disappointed to not be selected by his EF Education First team for this year’s race for the yellow jersey.
Nonetheless, Craddock didn’t let his morale dip, and instead is seeing out 2019 on a high. A strong seventh place overall at the Larry H Millar Tour of Utah in August paved the way for four individual top-10 stage results at the Vuelta a España.
On Wednesday he cemented himself as one of the world’s top riders against the clock.
“I was disappointed to miss out on the Tour,” he said after his time trial. “Personally, it was a really big goal of mine to be there. But the Vuelta’s a really prestigious and tough race and if you can prove yourself there it’s almost just the same. I’m really happy I was able to race well there and take a lot of confidence into these worlds.”
Repeatedly finishing at the upper end of grand tour stages is creditable enough under any circumstances. Craddock’s performance at the Vuelta was rendered all the more impressive by the fact that he did so after his EF Education First team was decimated by crashes, with leaders Rigoberto Uran, Tejay van Garderen, and Hugh Carthy all going home in the first week due to injury.
The EF Education First team rose to triumph under adversity however, with the remaining members rallying around Craddock’s quest for stage wins, while also scooping an impressive victory for 22-year-old Sergio Higuita.
“I came out of the Vuelta feeling really confident in my abilities,” reflects Craddock.” It was a really difficult Vuelta, and we had a really tough race the entire three weeks. But I felt like I was able to turn a page in my development and how I rode, and finally was able to race like I feel how I should be racing.”
Craddock didn’t just roll down the start ramp in Harrogate full of confidence, but also full of inspiration. Just the day before, fellow American Chloe Dygert Owen showed the world her strength to become the youngest ever elite time trial world champion, and the U.S.A placed two riders on to the podium in the U23 time trial.
“The U23 men and Chloe set the bar high for everyone yesterday,” he said. “Chloe showed herself as a phenomenal talent. All the nation was really excited and proud of her efforts and all the preparation she put into it.”
After a 2018 of missed opportunity, both Dygert Owen and Craddock were able to realize their potential at the highest level on the rolling, grippy roads of Yorksire with their time trials.
When pressed about his future plans, Craddock, who has yet to sign a contract for 2020, remained unusually tight-lipped, with his usually open and friendly demeanor closing slightly as he said only that he’s “still working on it.”
Though Craddock’s future may be unclear, his performances in the last four weeks have shone a light on his true talent, and 2020 should remain bright for him, wherever he finds himself.