Howes hoping to stay with Cannondale, Craddock unsure of 2018 destination

Contract discussions slowed by sponsorship woes

Cannondale-Drapac's two-week stretch of financial uncertainty put the contracts of every rider signed for 2018 in doubt, but many of the team's biggest names have confirmed their continued future with the team now that Education First has come on board as a naming partner. 

Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Urán and perennial Classics contender Sep Vanmarcke are set to ride for the American outfit next year as planned, along with several others.

It remains to be seen, however, what's next for the many riders who are still without contracts for the coming season.

Americans Alex Howes and Lawson Craddock, who both spent the weekend in Canada racing the GPs Québec and Montréal, are among those who are yet to make anything official regarding their 2018 plans.

Howes told Cyclingnews on Sunday in Montreal that he was hoping to stick with the Slipstream Sports organisation moving forward.

"I haven't signed anywhere yet but I'm looking to stay with the team," he said. The uncertainty surrounding the team may have slowed down discussion of future contracts, but Howes said that with that problem solved, conversations have resumed quickly.

"Talks are in the works with Cannondale, with everybody. I think a lot of other teams were also waiting to see the situation with Cannondale."

As he hammers out his situation for 2018, the 29-year-old will soon head to Bergen, Norway for the UCI Road World Championships. Nearing the conclusion of a career season that saw him take stage wins and GC podium spots at the Colorado Classic and Tour of Alberta, among other results, Howes was named to the starting six for the United States in the road race.

Craddock seemed less decided on his future, only saying that he's leaving it to former teammate and current agent Caleb Fairley.

"I've got a great agent, Caleb Fairley, and I trust him. Regardless, I'm going to be in a great situation next year," he said.

"I've had a great two years here. I'm very comfortable here but whatever happens, happens."

2017 has been a frustrating season for the 25-year-old Texan, who has attributed a quiet spring and summer to over-training. On the heels of a 2016 that saw him garner top 10s in the Vuelta al País Vasco, Criterium International and Tour of California, Craddock is nearing the end of this season still hunting a strong result to pin his hat on. He did, however, show off plenty of current form on Sunday at the GP Montréal, spending much of the afternoon at the front of the peloton controlling the race, helping set up Tom-Jelte Slagter for a podium finish.

"It's been a stressful year really, to be honest. Not my greatest year on the bike," he said. "I've had a lot of health issues and some stuff happened that hasn't made racing at the top level the easiest. [Sunday] was probably one of my best days on the bike this year, so I'm definitely on the way up. Looking forward to finishing this season on a high note. Whatever comes out of that is going to come out of that."

While acknowledging his discontent with 2017, Craddock was confident that a WorldTour outfit is where he belongs.

"I know my ability in the sport. I've shown it in the past," he said. "At this point, I have a lot of motivation to finish the season a high note, extra motivation to come out next year and prove myself again," he said.

"Unfortunately, the way the sport is structured you're only as good as your last result. Even though I had a great year last year, no one remembers it at this point. That can be a little bit frustrating. But like I said, I know my talent, I know I belong in the WorldTour and I know I can compete at the highest level of the sport."

Craddock won't be headed to Bergen, noting that he didn't push for selection knowing that he wouldn't be at the level he wanted to 'represent the flag.' He isn't certain of his schedule for the rest of the season but said that a trip to Italy for October's stretch of one-day races may be in the cards. With all three Grand Tours in the books and the Worlds approaching, the season is winding down, but Craddock knows there may still be opportunities for him to put his talents on display at the end of a contract year.

"Normally I wouldn't enjoy racing so late in October but this year has kind of been a special year and I still have motivation to be in a race where I can truly affect it, so that will definitely help out," he said. "If I have to go to China to do that, then for sure."

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