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Lawson Craddock crashes on stage 5, but finishes, at the Vuelta

RONDA, Spain (VN) — American Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) lived the highs and lows of grand tour racing all in one day in Thursday’s fifth stage at the Vuelta a España.

The grand-tour rookie hit the deck midway through the 180km stage to Ronda, but that wasn’t going to stop him from celebrating the second team victory of this Vuelta with German sprinter John Degenkolb.

“I’m okay, nothing that’s going to take me out of the race,” Craddock told VeloNews via telephone. “I am a little stiff, a little sore, but given that John won the stage, that lifts my spirits.”

The 22-year-old slid out while riding through a roundabout nearing the day’s feed zone. A photo posted on his Twitter account revealed the damage, with scrapes to his right elbow, torso, and hip.

Roads in southern Spain can be coated in oil and dust following months and months without any substantial rainfall, making it treacherous for the high-speed peloton.

“I was going through a roundabout, maybe a little hot. The next thing I know, my front wheel went out from underneath me,” he said. “Ninety-nine out of a 100 times, nothing happens, but I got slammed to the ground. I am just glad I didn’t take anyone else out with me.”

Craddock didn’t appear on preliminary race results; he explained that he switched bikes, and his back-up frame didn’t have a transponder, but added that he finished safely in the pack to survive another day.

“It will hurt to shower. Pretty much that top layer of skin is gone,” he said. “It’s more of a burn than any serious cuts or scrapes. I’ll be sore, but I should be OK.”

Craddock, along with compatriot and teammate Chad Haga, is making his grand-tour debut. So far, Giant-Shimano has won two out of five stages, thanks to the team’s hard work and Degenkolb’s impressive finishing kick.

Craddock said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far in the opening stages of the Vuelta.

“It’s been a bit of a shock so far. The pack is bigger than anything I’ve ever raced against before. You notice how good these top guys really are,” Craddock said. “It’s been fun racing with the guys. It’s been an awesome learning experience so far. John’s won two out of five stages. Now we have 16 more to go.”