EF Education First Pro Cycling has announced the re-signing of Lawson Craddock. The American has played an integral role in the team’s successes during the 2019 season.
“EF is a great place for me to continue to grow,” said Craddock. “I feel like I’m in a really good spot in terms of my role in the team. I stepped into the domestique role a bit more than I have in the past, and I discovered it’s actually something I really quite enjoy, being there and helping our leaders as much as possible to deliver them to success. In the second half of the season, I also had a few opportunities to race for myself, for my own results.”
Craddock is best known for one of his worst, on paper, results. The American sustained a high profile scapular fracture on the opening stage of the 2018 Tour de France and captivated audiences worldwide as he raced all the way to the Tour’s conclusion in Paris as the race’s Laterne Rouge, the rider the occupies the final spot on the overall classification En route to Paris, Craddock raised nearly $400,000 for Houston’s Hurricane Harvey battered Alkek Velodrome, where he first learned to race.
Craddock came to the team in 2016 as a rider tapped for the longer stage races. The past two seasons, he’s shifted his focus.
“Lawson had a year where he was really under-performing,” said EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “I thought he could grow into a top ten three week Grand Tour rider, not necessarily a contender but a guy that could finish in the top 10. I was training him for that, and I don’t think that was the right decision for him, formula for him. Now he’s more focused on getting into breakaways, his time trial, helping his teammates. He’s where he should be in the sport now.
“Lawson has been a great part of this program since he came to us, and we’re happy to have him for another two years,” Vaughters added. “You know, he didn’t make the Tour team this year, and he showed a lot of grit and gumption to come back in the second part of the season to do a great Vuelta, a great World Championships. I was really proud of the attitude he showed surrounding that. That’s the kind of thing we really appreciate on this team — someone that takes a hard decision and comes back stronger from it.”
The time trial has been an obvious area of development for Craddock. He finished sixth at the 2019 Road World Championships in Yorkshire last month, fourth in the stage 10 time trial at the Vuelta a España in mid-September, sixth in the Tour de Suisse opening stage time trial in June and seventh in the time trial at Paris-Nice in March.
“I’ve had the ability to do a lot of work on my time trialling, and that’s shown this year, and there’s still a lot of room for improvements in terms of overall strength on the bike and my position on the bike,” said Craddock. “I look forward to putting in the effort to see what I’m capable of in the TT.”
“In terms of other ambitions next year, I’m well-suited towards races like Amstel Gold Race,” noted Craddock. “I had a good race there this year, helping Clarkely get second, and next year I’d love to have another crack at that, whether that’s helping the team or getting a chance to go for it for myself. I also really want to make the Olympics team for the USA.”
Craddock’s evolution has coincided with the evolution of the team.
“The team nearly folding in 2017 actually ended up being the thing that saved us all,” said Craddock. “EF learned about the team because of the #SaveArgyle campaign we launched as a last ditch effort to keep the team afloat. They’ve come on board and changed how we all operate, given us a clear goal to all work towards. And while they do want us all to best that we can be on the bike, they recognize that there are other aspects of life out there that we can all focus on together, other goals we can strive to reach together.”
For Craddock, his daughter has provided a new focal point.
“Having Sweet Caroline around at the races, just around all together, it has changed my life completely,” said Craddock. “She’s given me more patience, and she’s also helped me recognize what’s really important – which is being the best father and husband that I can possibly be. And that realization has helped me come into races a bit more relaxed, to not stress about racing so much.
“This sport is so hard,” Craddock added. “I’d argue that it’s the hardest sport in the world mentally and physically. To have something to come home to that has nothing to do with that hard, to step away and look at my daughter and say: ‘This is why I do it. This is why I do everything. This is what’s important to me.’, its removed some of the pressure on the bike, and I think that’s why I’ve progressed in the way I have this year, why I’m hopeful and excited about my future progression.”