Craddock recently finished sixth in the UCI Road World Championships time trial in Yorkshire, part of his continuing show of form in the second half of 2019 along with solid performances at the Tour of Utah and the Vuelta a España.
"EF is a great place for me to continue to grow,” said Craddock, a product of USA Cycling's development program and Axel Merckx's U23 team. Craddock signed his first neo-pro contract with Giant-Alpecin – now Team Sunweb – and moved to Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream program in 2016.
"I feel like I’m in a really good spot in terms of my role in the team," he said. "I stepped into the domestique role a bit more than I have in the past, and I discovered it’s actually something I really quite enjoy, being there and helping our leaders as much as possible to deliver them to success. In the second half of the season, I also had a few opportunities to race for myself, for my own results."
Craddock may be best known for his gutty performance at the 2018 Tour de France, where he crashed during the first stage and broke his scapula. The Texan continued on through 20 more stages, eventually finishing dead last at more than four-and-a-half hours down on winner Gerraint Thomas (Team Ineos), but using the publicity from his three-week struggle to raise nearly $400,000 for a local Houston velodrome.
Craddock missed the EF Education First selection for the Tour de France this year, but Vaughters said the team is moving the rider in a new direction away from the longer stage races.
"Lawson had a year where he was really under-performing," Vaughter said. "I thought he could grow into a top 10 three-week Grand Tour rider, not necessarily a contender but a guy that could finish in the top 10. I was training him for that, and I don't think that was the right decision for him, formula for him. Now he's more focused on getting into breakaways, his time trial, helping his teammates. He's where he should be in the sport now.
"Lawson has been a great part of this program since he came to us, and we're happy to have him for another two years. You know, he didn't make the Tour team this year, and he showed a lot of grit and gumption to come back in the second part of the season to do a great Vuelta, a great World Championships.
"I was really proud of the attitude he showed surrounding that. That's the kind of thing we really appreciate on this team – someone that takes a hard decision and comes back stronger from it."
Craddock has embraced his new direction, and especially a focus on the time trial, where he finished sixth at in Yorkshire Worlds, fourth in the stage 10 time trial at the Vuelta in September, sixth in the Tour de Suisse opening stage time trial in June and seventh in the time trial at Paris-Nice in March.
"I’ve had the ability to do a lot of work on my time trialling, and that’s shown this year, and there’s still a lot of room for improvements in terms of overall strength on the bike and my position on the bike,” Craddock said. "I look forward to putting in the effort to see what I’m capable of in the TT.
"In terms of other ambitions next year, I’m well-suited towards races like Amstel Gold Race. I had a good race there this year, helping Clarkely [Simon Clarke] get second, and next year I’d love to have another crack at that, whether that’s helping the team or getting a chance to go for it for myself. I also really want to make the Olympics team for the USA."
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