At the beginning of his rookie season, 22-year-old Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) penciled in two goals for the year. The first — to finish on the podium at the Amgen Tour of California — he’s already accomplished, reaching third overall and winning the young rider’s category in May.
The second, to start the Vuelta a España, looks very likely to happen as well. Craddock, and fellow American Chad Haga, are both in line to start the Vuelta for Giant-Shimano later this month.
“If I were to be selected, I will try to finish the thing,” Craddock told VeloNews in a telephone interview. “We’ll be going with a strong team, with [Warren] Barguil for the GC, and [John] Degenkolb for the sprints. So if I am selected, I will be going there to help Warren out in the GC, and help John in the sprints.”
Craddock has already had a very busy neo-pro season, racing nearly 50 days so far, and getting a taste of a little bit of everything. Giant-Shimano started him in races ranging from Tour du Haut Var and Three Days of West Flanders to the nine-day Tour de Suisse. Craddock’s been soaking up the experiences like a sponge.
“It’s been a great neo-pro season so far. I’m really happy with it so far,” he explained. “It’s been awesome to be out there with the guys, racing and suffering, but it’s not done yet. There is still a lot of racing this season.”
After the Tour de Suisse in June, he returned to his native Texas, where he enjoyed the Fourth of July, visited family and friends, smashed some local Strava records, and otherwise recovered and prepared for the second half of 2014.
“The Tour de Suisse was my first WorldTour race,” he said. “And I’ve never been on the bike nine days in a row. I realized the depth of the field. It’s a whole other level, and I have to step up if I want to compete. You could see how the top riders were just as fresh on day nine as they were on day one.”
Craddock clicked back into the pedals at last weekend’s Clásica San Sebastián, and will race next week’s Vuelta a Burgos (August 13-17), before what he’s hoping will be a Vuelta nod.
Giant-Shimano will finalize its Vuelta nine following the Burgos tour, but Vuelta officials revealed a preliminary start list Tuesday, and Craddock’s name was among the nine penciled-in starters.
It looks like those early-season goals are coming to fruition.
Editor’s Note: Check back soon at VeloNews.com for a full interview with Craddock.