"It was a great day for the team," Lawson Craddock said. "We worked hard for that, and not just yesterday but for the last few months and years. To have that win was huge for us, definitely lifted morale quite a bit."
In past years Craddock came to California with leadership responsibilities, but a challenging spring meant the 25-year-old rider had to adjust his focus for the season.
"Obviously the first time in five years I'm not coming to California as the leader but with Talansky riding the way he is it's not a problem for me," Craddock said before the Big Bear Lake time trial. "It's great to work for a guy, and a team, that is dedicated to one goal, and I'm happy to do that."
Craddock's 2016 season was filled with promising results including 5th at Tour of California and 9th and Pais Vasco. Craddock came into 2017 extremely motivated but feels he 'overcooked it' while training, forcing him off the bike during a critical part of the spring season. Part of resetting his season has been managing his expectations and ambitions heading into his next several European races.
"It's been rough, and I haven't been able to race that much," Craddock said. "I've been on the couch a lot. But it's easy to let that affect the rest of the year, but that's definitely not what we're going to do.
"There is still five, four more months left in the season. In any case, I'm hoping to come into it a lot fresher than I normally do and keep building and really turn the jets on for the last few months."
Before the Tour of California started Craddock's teammate Taylor Phinney played down his objectives for the week, but showed a promising return to form after finishing 7th in the stage 3 sprint in Morro Bay. Phinney was equally circumspect about his spring campaign which encountered similar setbacks.
"I kind of fought back from some different injuries, I had a concussion, but the team was pretty supportive, really supportive actually," Phinney said. "I know how to still have fun even though things in the professional side are a little bit down.
"Yeah, career wise it hasn't been the greatest year of my life but personally I feel like I'm growing and evolving in a positive way and that is all you can really ask for."
Phinney's luck did not hold up any better in Saturday's stage from Mountain High Resort to Pasadena. Phinney was the victim of a crash on the long descent in the opening kilometres of the races. While teammate Andrew Talansky fought George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) for the top podium spot, Phinney abandoned the race and climbed into the team car.
Craddock finished the stage 11 minutes behind the leaders, and over an hour down in the GC standings, but his work through the week helped ensure Talansky's third place finish in the GC. Craddock remains focused on putting the last few months behind him and getting on track for the remainder of the season.
"I still know what I'm capable of, I think the team recognizes that as well and the support they've shown me over the last few months has been truly incredible," Craddock said. "I couldn't really ask for more from them. So right now we are all in this together working towards a common goal, and that is getting into top shape."
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