After crashing in the feed zone midway through the first stage of this year's Tour de France, nobody would have blamed EF Education First-Drapac rider Lawson Craddock if he had climbed off at the end of the day and headed home.
Having persevered through the remaining 100km of the stage in clear difficulty, it later emerged that along with cuts to his left eyebrow, he also suffered a fracture of his left scapula [shoulder blade].
"It was really painful out on the road just trying to manage it as best I could," he said on the EF Education First-Drapac website after the finish. "I'll try to stay positive, manage the pain as hard as I can. I'm not just going home at the first sign of adversity."
And so Craddock, our Zwift Rider of the Day for stage 3, continued. Last place, 7:50 down, on stage 1 was followed by another last place and a 8:05 time loss on Sunday. It was hard going, but he was persevering. Goals of aiding team leader Rigoberto Urán in the mountains had seemed distant, but come the team time trial Craddock wasn't just surviving, he was contributing.
Still nursing his injuries, Craddock took turns on the front throughout the 35.5km stage before dropping away 3km from the line – his job for the day complete. It was part of a team effort that harkens back to the Garmin TTT powerhouse as the team finished a strong sixth, with Urán finishing within 35 seconds of GC rivals Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Chris Froome, (Team Sky) Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
For Craddock, who finished ninth in the Amstel Gold Race earlier this year, survival will still be the goal in the coming days. Each stage completed means a $100 donation to his childhood Alkek Velodrome in Houston, which was damaged by Hurricane Harvey earlier in the year. If you didn't already have a reason to cheer him on, there it is.
Daniel Ostanek: After stage 1, I didn't learn the extent of Craddock's injuries until I had already written about Fernando Gaviria, but clearly the EF-Drapac man could have won this award on any of the three stages thus far. Just being able to ride on was inexplicable, but to take turns on the front while riding 54km/h for 40 minutes in that TT position? Just amazing.
From Fiorenzo Magni riding to second place at the 1956 Giro with a broken arm and collarbone, to Geraint Thomas riding much of the 2013 Tour with a broken pelvis, there's a rich history of riders persevering when any normal human would give up. And while it may not be medically wise, the determination and bravery of those competing in our sport is something to admire.
On stage 2 you voted for Direct Énergie's Sylvain Chavanel as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The 39-year-old Frenchman made it into the break of the day but ended up riding alone for 132km after his breakmates dropped back early on. It was a ride that summed up a careers-worth of fighting spirit, right at the start of Chavanel's record-breaking 18th – and final – Tour de France.
You can vote for the stage 3 Zwift Rider of the Day below. We will announce the readers' poll winner after Tuesday's stage 4.
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