Lawson Craddock will continue for a third year with Slipstream Sports following the announcement of a contract extension for the American. In a contract year, the 25-year-old's season was compromised by overtraining for his spring ambitions.
After a promising 2016 with Cannondale in which Craddock placed ninth at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and made his Tour de France debut, the 2017 season was largely a write-off. At the Tour of Guangxi, his last race for the season, Craddock explained the relief of securing his future with a team that was on the brink of collapse in August.
"It's been a pretty rough year for me and it actually been a pretty stressful year for me," Craddock told Cyclingnews. "I was searching for a contract, especially following the news of the team coming out a month or two ago and the uncertainty about their future. A few sleepless nights but I am pretty fortunate to stay in the WorldTour next year and come back."
Craddock explained that he understands what he did wrong in 2017 and is looking at what lessons to learn rather than viewing the year just past as a ‘lost' season of sorts.
“It is all stuff that I have known exactly what has gone wrong so it is definitely something I can take into next year and use this year as a learning experience. I am 100 per cent confident that in ten years from now I am going to look back on 2017 and maybe not laugh about it, but maybe even be thankful for it. Just because of the things I've learned and things I can take forward into the rest of my career.
“The main thing I've taken out is just to listen to my body. I kind of got away from that this year. I was a bit too motivated and all these signs were popping up that maybe I was doing a bit too much. I didn't really listen to it and there were times I should have shut it down instead of trying to keep going. Or trying to come back and took the wrong turn. It is something I can definitely take forward into the future.”
Craddock's season started at the Vuelta a San Juan in January but totalled just 38 race days on the eve of the Tour of Guangxi. He didn't race at all in April and July. The Texan explained that his wife Chelsie has been instrumental in keeping him motivated during the difficult moments.
“I have been really fortunate to have my wife this year. We have spent a lot more time than we normally should have and it has been great. She has definitely keep me sane, kept me going and having something to work towards for the future,"Craddock explained.
Looking forward to the winter
At the Tour of Guangxi, Craddock's focus is on making through the six-stages safe and sound before embarking on an off-season in which he can relax and reflect on the year.
"I think you look at stage four and five, and they are not really easy stages. Especially towards the end of the year. I don't really know what my fitness is at this point so I am just looking forward to getting through the week in pretty decent way and turn my focus onto next year," he said. "I am looking forward to going back to the states and Texas after this race and just relaxing for a bit. I have a few trips planned just to unwind after a pretty stressful and long season for me."
Although the Cannondale-Drapac team was facing collapse in August due to a budget shortfall, general manager Jonathan Vaughters pulled off a deal that will see EF Education First step in as major naming rights sponsor and long-term partner.
Thanks to the confirmation of the team's safe future and its results in 2017, most notably Rigoberto Uran's second place at the Tour de France, Craddock believes it's only onwards and upwards from herein on.
"For sure this team is heading in the right direction. We had quite a successful year, probably one of our more successful years, so that has been really exciting. Unfortunately, I wasn't really a part if it this year but I am really confident I'll turn it around and be right there with the guys helping them out to win a few races and even cross the finish line first a couple of times myself.”