Monday, May 14, 2012

Here's a copy of an interview that was published in VeloNation yesterday: Lawson Craddock Interview: Gila Monster stage winner speaks prior to California by Ed Hood at 3:47 PM EST Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour of California Bontrager Livestrong rider says team will ‘be going out to try to prove something’ Australian Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) took the 26th SRAM Tour of the Gila last Sunday after winning the first stage and never relinquishing the lead. But the experienced Australian – a top 10 finisher in the 2011 Tour of California – was threatened on the final day during the ‘Gila Monster’ stage when an early break ‘stuck.’ This took Competitive Cyclist’s former BMC rider, Chad Beyer to within 15 seconds of overall victory. The rider who grabbed the stage victory from the move was Bontrager-Livestrong’s former double junior world time trial championship medallist, Lawson Craddock. Craddock lead team-mate Ian Boswell to second place on the stage, whilst Joe Dombrowski took third on GC and best young rider. It was good five days for the Bontrager men. Craddock’s first appearance on the US national stage was in 2008 when he won titles in the track scratch and points races. Within a year, he was world junior time trial championship silver medallist. In 2010 he landed a hat trick of junior national titles – criterium, road and time trial; was third in the junior Paris-Roubaix and on the podium again with third in the world junior time trial championship. Last year, with Trek-Livestrong, he won a stage in the hotly contested Triptyque Monts et Chateaux was second in the US U23 time trial championships and made the top dozen in the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen. This year Bontrager are the sponsors for the Livestrong squad and Craddock’s progression continues. We spoke to him as he awaited his flight connection to his next big test in the Tour of California, which begins today. VeloNation: Congratulations on the stage win, Lawson…is it really ‘the Gila Monster?’ Lawson Craddock: It’s definitely my biggest result on what for sure is the hardest stage of the race. It’s the ‘Queen Stage’ with 2700 metres of climbing. The break went early in the day, around 20 riders, our rider Ian Boswell was there and I bridged up. We were hoping that our GC rider, Joe Dombrowski (eventual third on GC) may be able to come across later and we could help him. But the gap just kept growing…with sixty kilometres left, it was five minutes. With 45 kilometres to go there was the hardest climb of the day, the Gila Monster - and half way up, Chad Beyer attacked. I countered and at the top we had 20 seconds, which grew to 45 on the descent. My team mate Ian Boswell bridged up to us – which was perfect - and on the run-in he attacked. Beyer tried to counter but he cracked and Ian and I rode in to finish one-two. VN: You finished fifth on GC at 1 minute 39 but lost 3 minutes 39 on stage one . . . LC: It was a tough finish that day…there was a cross wind on the finish climb and more of a concern for me was Joe Dombrowski. He was our best chance for the GC, he’s a great climber. He was second on that stage and third overall at the end; and to have the two of us make the top five on final GC – we’re just stoked! VN: No upsets on stage two? LC: The goal was to keep Joe safe…it wasn’t too tough a day and we finished safe in the peloton. VN: Stage three was the time trial… LC: I was fourth and happy with that, I gave it my all. If you look at who finished ahead of me – Evan Huffman (California Giant) won it, he won the TT in the McLane Pacific Classic; Sutherland was second and he’s been on the podium a few times in the Australian time trial championships, and Joe Dombrowski was third. VN: Stage four was the criterium… LC: That’s Joe’s weakest discipline, so we rode to make sure he kept out of trouble. At the finish I tried to set the sprint up for my team-mate, Gavin Mannion - but ninth was the best we could do. VN: It ended up with Joe third on GC and best young rider with you fifth and second in the best young rider contest. LC: It was ironic - I’m not really built like a climber but I won the Gila Monster stage and Joe’s the skinniest man alive and he beat me in the time trial! People doubted our California invite, but they can’t after this performance by the team. VN: Gila is an altitude race, you coped well… LC: Bontrager-Livestrong gave us the opportunity to train in Boulder, Colorado to prepare…that was a huge advantage. You could see that the riders who hadn’t had similar preparation were suffering; Boulder was a huge leg up for us. VN: Your title sponsor changed from Trek to Bontrager – has that made a difference? LC: Because we’re no longer tied to The Shack it means we can ride California, Utah and Colorado. We’re no longer just a U23 team; have a couple of new guys on board from New Zealand and Belgium – and the programme is great. VN: Have you been in Europe yet in 2012? LC: I was over at the beginning of March; I rode the Tour of Normandie then the U23 Tours of Flanders and Picardie with the US national team, plus the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Bontrager. Ian Boswell did really well at Liege; he was second. There were no great results but I learned a lot. VN: You made the top dozen in Flanders in 2011. LC: That was a good result and I was hoping to improve upon it, this year. But luck wasn’t with me, I punctured and crashed – it was really disappointing, I trained for three months for that race. It was a big blow to the morale – I was super-pumped for that one. VN: You were 50th in the worlds U23 time trial in Copenhagen - did you expect better? LC: It was a really long year for me, last season. I wasn’t mentally prepared for that and didn’t do the ride I wanted, but I learned a lot and that’ll be good for me this year. VN: What will you do in the run up to California? LC: We fly to California, today (this interview was done on Monday – ed.). We’ll be doing recon on some of the stages. It’ll be the hardest race any of us have ever done, so a realistic goal for us will be just to finish. But having said that, Joe Dombrowski is one of the best U23 climbers there is – and Ian Boswell is going very well. We’ll all be going out to try to prove something. VN: What’s your goal for California? LC: I’ll be targeting the time trial; I have good morale after Gila – so we’ll see how I feel! Read more:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 1 Amgen Tour of California

That was awesome and so much fun! The day started with oatmeal, eggs, a team meeting and lining up at the start with some of the best riders in the world. How do you top that as a developing rider? With 5km into the race, a break of 30 riders went and Bontrager Livestrong was represented by jamming Josh Atkins who secured 2nd place in the young riders behind none other than Peter Saigon. Josh is wearing white tomorrow. With the break up the road, the peloton let off a bit and Radio Shack and Garmin worked the front setting the pace and we settled in for the up and down hilly terrain of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Stage 1 of AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA!!!! At the top for the first climb at Fort Ross the gap to the break was close to 8 minutes. Without the major team GC contenders in the break I knew this was going to hurt. The sharp left turn into the narrow winding roads of Coleman Valley was a bit pivotal for me as I knew up ahead was the big climb for the day. Sitting at the back and a bit unsure, I settled in for a visit to the pain cave. I found myself with a group in a steady pace and we started moving to the front. At the top I was in the lead group of 30 and the decent upon us. We all came back together though and with 20 km to go Garmin and Rabobank cranked it up and starting driving it. I found myself surfing the front a bit and having a blast. 3 km to go a saw the clipped wheel to my left and swept right just in the nick of time and still had a good position. We went under the bridge and the sprint was on at 300m. I gave it my all and managed to place 9th in the sprint with my teammate Gavin taking 11th. And….I nicked Luis Leon Sanchez at the line…whoaaaa. What a great day. The day was insane, so much fun, great crowds, glimpses of crazy taco costumes and an overall a fantastic experience. A big shout out to our Sponsors Bontrager Livestrong, Trek, SRAM, Honey Stinger, Strava (Check out the first stage on Strava HERE), Giro and Mellow Johnny’s for whom this amazing opportunity would not be possible without their continued support. And as always a big thank you to all those who continue to support me both on and off my bike in this amazing journey! Tomorrow…..Stage 2 ….whoaaaaa.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Update of Sorts

I know its been awhile and sorry for the delay but I’m BACK. At least for today. Lot to catch up on but the short of it, I am living the dream. After a few classes at Austin Community College in the fall, a winter break, the addition of a few pounds and meeting an amazing girl (and not in that order) , it was time to get back to work. Winter training in Austin was great, several of my teammates resided in the south for the winter not to mention great training partners and mentors such as likes of Health Blackgrove, Christian Howes, Pat McCarty and none other than Lance Armstrong himself. The year started off with a crash at training camp in California and injuring my knee but a willing spirit to tackle the challenging 2012 race schedule and my second year in the U23 ranks.
2012 began with a 3rd place at the Panamerican championship time trials in Argentina, second to to my teammate Nate Brown. Then it was off to Europe for a series of races such as Tour of Normandie, Ronde van Vlaanderen & La Cote Picarde with the US National team and Liege-Bastogne with Bontrager Livestrong. My last race with BLS at the Zellik-Galmaarden ended with a sore knee and the inability to push through. While the finishes may not have been there for me this round, the experience, training and knowledge gained are invaluable. After 4 weeks of transcontinental travel, I left Belgium for Boulder to have my knee evaluated and acclimate myself to the challenges of altitude….I can’t breathe. Prognosis…scar tissue to be treated with STRETCHING and massage and yep still can’t breathe. Finally, after two and a half weeks of climbing at a snail’s pace, did I mention hard to breath, and the knee feeling better, the outlook for Tour of the Gila was looking better.
The Gila: WOW, what can I say. Our team was fantastic and the last day just clicked for all of us! Going into the race, we knew that our strengths could surface in the climbing with Joe and Ian, the time trial with Nate and myself and on any given day the rest of my teammates, Ryan, Gavin, Josh and James were every bit as capable in showing their strength with a strong finish or driving a break. But honestly, you never know what can happen in a bike race. Joe had a solid performance on first day with great team support and this helped launch him into position in capturing 3rd in the GC and best young rider. While I felt my strongest position would be in the time trial, I was able to secure a 5th place finish with Joe taking 3rd, and Gavin landing 13th…yet another great day for our team. On the final stage, our job, protect Joe and watch the breaks for a possible podium spot on the stage. We did just that. I managed to stay in the break for a good portion of the day nad Ian bridged up giving us great advantage when the break began to splinter. Chad jumped and I went with him. I guess training in the mountains and sucking air in Boulder was paying off. The two of us were pulling away when Ian surfaced yet again and I then knew our chances were pretty good for podium spots. With the one two on Chad, Ian jumped and I came around to go with and the gap was there. It’s hard to describe coming across the line for my first pro win and sharing it alongside my good friend and teammate Ian. The day didn’t stop there, our position in the stage, the overall strength of the team and Joe’s amazing performance launched us into to the overall team GC. PUMPED!! I started with WOW and ending with WOW!
The 2012 Amgen Tour of California begins for us tomorrow. We ar the youngest team there and the challenges we face are real but the opportunity for us to learn from the best is priceless. Anything can happen in a bike race and while we are realistic in our experience, we have much to gain and learn by riding amongst some of the best from where the real prize lies. I will do my best to keep you posted as the day’s progress. I seem to manage the discipline well on the bike but am lacking in it when it comes to keeping those who have supported me over the years informed. My thanks to all of you for the notes of encouragement, kudos, pats on the backs and especially to my sponsor Bontrager Livestrong, our amazing staff and my teammates. I know full well I am here because all of you! Cheers and talk soon…I hope!