FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — American Lawson Craddock stormed through the 2013 season, signed a professional contract with Argos-Shimano, and placed fifth on Monday in the under-23 time trial at the UCI Elite Road World Championships. For Craddock (Bontrager), however, the true objective is Friday’s hilly road race in Florence, Italy.
“I’m not disappointed with today at all,” Craddock said on Monday. “I’m happy with it, but I do have a lot more to give, I can tell you that.”
The 21-year-old Texan, the 19th starter in Monday’s U23 contest, led the time trial after clocking a 51:31.35 in the 42.7-kilometer time trial. Craddock watched his name slowly move down the leaderboard until the last rider — bronze medalist Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) — finished. Though fifth, 1:41 behind Aussie Damien Howson, Craddock was in good spirits and already planning for Friday’s road race.
“I’ve stood on every step of the podium at the world championships except for the top step,” he said. “For me, ever since signing my pro contract with Argos-Shimano, this is what I’ve been focusing on. I’m going to go out and leave everything on the road, and hopefully that’s not more skin.”
Craddock crashed 25km into Monday’s time trial. Nothing to worry about, he said; the adrenalin fueled his ride. Medics wrapped Craddock’s right shin at the finish. He said he felt somewhat embarrassed.
“It’s a bummer to crash in the world championships, especially in the time trial, when it’s no one’s fault but your own,” he said.
Craddock won a silver and bronze medal at past junior time trial championships. The American has dropped 15 pounds in the last 24 months to hone his climbing chops, forfeiting a little of his time trial touch on the flats. His run of results this year includes best young rider in the Amgen Tour California, a stage win and second overall in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, and seventh in the USA Pro Challenge.
He is one of the favorites, along with with riders like Bontrager teammate Jasper Stuyven (Belgium) and Tour of Britain stage winner Simon Yates (Great Britain) to win the 173.19km road race on Friday. The 4.3km climb to Fiesole north of Florence and the two short ramps later in the race suit him.
It will not hurt that he is racing with familiar faces. Bontrager riders make up the entire five-man U.S. team, with Nathan Brown, Gavin Mannion, Nathan Wilson, and Tanner Putt rounding out the squad. The Texan without a southern accent can wax about their results and will laugh if called the team statistician.
“I learned that from Nathan Wilson,” he said. “He can tell you who finished 46th in a race. Our personalities rub off.”
Craddock has also studied the Florence parcours and climbs since returning to Europe on Sept. 16. He compared The Florence circuit to the 2010 junior worlds in Offida, Italy, and said it would be a race of attrition.
“We do seven [laps] in total and every time is going to wear on you. You just got to stay safe, play it smart and you can’t use too much energy too energy,” he said. “We’ve done the climb, we’ve done our research, we’ve done the work. Now, it’s time to put it to good use, and I think we will.”
The U23 road race takes place on Friday, Sept. 27.