Lawson Craddock’s Tour de France looked promising for two hours, but since he has been fighting just to keep in the race with a broken shoulder blade.
The American from Texas crashed at 100 kilometres into the first stage of the 2018 Tour. The television cameras only caught him afterwards, when he dangled off the back of the group with blood streamed down his face.
He keeps fighting even if the prospect of lasting past stage nine, over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, seems low.
“I can’t say anything for certain at this point,” Craddock said.
“I’m going to fight like hell. I’ll see how I feel, the last thing I want to do is put others in danger as well as myself.
“I’ll give it my best shot and if I can get out there and get going, you better believe I am not just going to stop.”
After a 2017 season to forget, Craddock fought to return to his best. He showed signs of being on the right track with ninth in the Amstel Gold Race and fourth in the Tour of California time trial – and of course, a spot on the US WorldTour team EF Education First-Drapac’s squad to support Tour hopeful Rigoberto Urán.
EF Education the first blow to their squad early on in Vendée. A rogue water bottle in the feed zonecaused him to lose control and run into a roadside fan.
“I was in the feed zone. Feed zones honestly are just getting more and more dangerous as the races go by,” he explained.
“The roads aren’t big in the first place and then with the soigneurs doing the best job they can and you can’t fault them exactly, but you know they limit the roads to about a quarter of what we have in the first place and it just leaves no room for error.
“Someone dropped a bottle in the feed zone and when you’re on bikes like these, wheels like these, it might as well be a hand grenade. [I] Hit it full on, honestly didn’t even see it, and next thing I know I was rocketing off the side of the road.
“The last thing I want to do is hurt myself, but even worse than that is the last thing I want to do is harm someone else who is out here trying to enjoy watching the race and her to support us. It was pretty unfortunate all around and I’m praying for her and wishing her the best recovery too.”
Craddock finished the 201-kilometre stage one last of 176 riders behind winner Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors). It seemed he would abandon that evening, but he continued. Though he struggled, he completed the 182.5 kilometres – again, last of the bunch which was reduced by two riders who abandoned mid-stage.
In Texan style, he is thinking big. Not just riding and competing, but pushing further for charity.
“I think I’ve been given this unique opportunity. You have an accident like thing and you get a lot of extra attention on social media,” Craddock said.
“This was something actually in the works, not exactly this, but something was in the works around the Tour de France with me to donate these custom #HoustonStrong TKTK cycling shoes and that money will go to the velodrome in Houston, Texas.
“They suffered some damages from Hurricane Harvey last year and they have a youth cycling league that I hold very near and dear to my heart and so you know with all this newfound attention I felt I wanted to do something special with that.”
Every stage that Craddock finishes, he will donate $100 to the velodrome, an amount he wants his Instagram followers to match to keep his local cycling scene alive.
Even two days after his fall, emotions overtake Craddock.
“It’s just professional sports, you just don’t ever want to stop. You put a lot of work into making it to where you are and a lot of sacrifices not only by me, but by my wife, my family as well.
“It’s just something you just really don’t want to go through and you’re first reaction is to just push and push and push.”