Lawson Craddock got the biggest tip in his junior cycling career in the form of a recent tweet by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. The Houston native wowed the cycling community when he won three junior national titles in the time trial, criterium and road race at the recent USA Cycling National Championships held in Bend, Oregon.
“I came into the National Championships feeling confident with my abilities, but you can never tell how the races are going to turn out,” Craddock told Cyclingnews. “There is always something that can go wrong at the last minute, and in fact I did have a problem with my shifter the day before the time trial. But with the help of David Brown, Grant Boswell and my dad [Tom Craddock], they were able to fix it. You can also have horrible luck in a race with mechanicals, but fortunately nothing went wrong and I was able to come away with all three titles which is a dream come true.
“The national title that means the most to me has probably got to be the road race,” he added. “With the majority of my competitions being road races, it will be a great honor to be wearing the American flag on my back as the national champion.”
The youngster has continued his form at this week's junior track championships in Trexlertown. Craddock claimed the Junior Men 17-18 Individual Pursuit title on the event's opening day.
The 18-year-old spent much of the early season in Europe with the US Junior National Team before competing in the US Junior National Championships in June. He placed third in the Junior Paris-Roubaix in April and went on to win the first stage of Belgium’s Ster van Zuid Limburg, where he moved into the leader’s yellow jersey.
In June he took two stage wins, both time trials, and place third in the overall at the UCI 2.2 Pays de Vaud in Switzerland. He followed that with a victory at Germany’s Nations Cup Trofeo Karlsberg and became the first American to win a Nations Cup race not held in North America. The team also included Anders Newbury, Ryan Eastman, Nate Geoffrion, Benny Swedberg, and Kristo Jorgenson.
“I came into the National Championships with good morale after some good results over in Europe with the US Junior National Team,” Craddock said. “Racing over in Europe was a unique experience, one that you cannot replicate in America. If it weren’t for USA Cycling’s developmental programs I would not have had the amazing opportunities nor be at the place where I am now. There is so much to learn over there with the likes of how to hold your position in the pack along with how to race smartly and efficiently.”
Craddock received a nod following his triple victory at the national championships from Lance Armstrong, who tweeted: “Remember the name Lawson Craddock...”
“I have always admired Lance’s incredible cycling abilities and his fight with cancer,” Craddock said. “Even before I was really into cycling I would follow him while he dominated in the Tour. Now that I see that he has taken a notice in some of my results, it is a crazy feeling that I can’t describe. It is starting to make me think that maybe I can actually take my cycling career somewhere more than a dream.”
Craddock’s early season results qualified him for an automatic nomination to this year’s UCI Junior Road World Championships, August 5-8 in Offida, Italy. He captured the silver medal in last year’s Junior World Championships in the time trial.
“I hope to someday make it to the ProTour,” Craddock said. “I have been fortunate enough to have been given a great gift from God, and I hope that I can continue to progress to make the most of it. I plan on just having as much fun as I can in the years to come, and I’ll take my cycling step-by-step and see where it takes me.”
Craddock started cycling at the young age of three years old, when he learned to ride a bike without training wheels. The guidance of his father, Tom, allowed he and brother Parker to attend summer programs at the Alkek Velodrome in Houston where he won his first omnium.
Along with his family, Craddock thanked a series of people who have help him during his young career that included his Durata Training coach David Wenger, team directeurs Benjamin Sharp and Toby Stanton, former ProTour rider Pat McCarty and P.J. Rabice from Road ID.
“There is no way that I would be where I am now if it weren’t for the support that I have received from my family and friends,” Craddock said. “No amount of words can express the gratitude that I have to all of them”.