Lawson Craddock Interview: Gila Monster stage winner speaks prior to California
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lawson Craddock Interview: Gila Monster stage winner speaks prior to California

by Ed Hood at 3:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour of California
 
Bontrager Livestrong rider says team will ‘be going out to try to prove something’

Lawson CraddockAustralian Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) took the 26th SRAM Tour of the Gila last Sunday after winning the first stage and never relinquishing the lead.

But the experienced Australian – a top 10 finisher in the 2011 Tour of California – was threatened on the final day during the ‘Gila Monster’ stage when an early break ‘stuck.’ This took Competitive Cyclist’s former BMC rider, Chad Beyer to within 15 seconds of overall victory.

The rider who grabbed the stage victory from the move was Bontrager-Livestrong’s former double junior world time trial championship medallist, Lawson Craddock.

Craddock lead team-mate Ian Boswell to second place on the stage, whilst Joe Dombrowski took third on GC and best young rider. It was good five days for the Bontrager men.

Craddock’s first appearance on the US national stage was in 2008 when he won titles in the track scratch and points races.

Within a year, he was world junior time trial championship silver medallist.

In 2010 he landed a hat trick of junior national titles – criterium, road and time trial; was third in the junior Paris-Roubaix and on the podium again with third in the world junior time trial championship.

Last year, with Trek-Livestrong, he won a stage in the hotly contested Triptyque Monts et Chateaux was second in the US U23 time trial championships and made the top dozen in the U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen.

This year Bontrager are the sponsors for the Livestrong squad and Craddock’s progression continues.

We spoke to him as he awaited his flight connection to his next big test in the Tour of California, which begins today.

VeloNation: Congratulations on the stage win, Lawson…is it really ‘the Gila Monster?’

Lawson Craddock: It’s definitely my biggest result on what for sure is the hardest stage of the race.

It’s the ‘Queen Stage’ with 2700 metres of climbing.

The break went early in the day, around 20 riders, our rider Ian Boswell was there and I bridged up.

We were hoping that our GC rider, Joe Dombrowski (eventual third on GC) may be able to come across later and we could help him.

But the gap just kept growing…with sixty kilometres left, it was five minutes.

With 45 kilometres to go there was the hardest climb of the day, the Gila Monster - and half way up, Chad Beyer attacked.

I countered and at the top we had 20 seconds, which grew to 45 on the descent.

My team mate Ian Boswell bridged up to us – which was perfect - and on the run-in he attacked. Beyer tried to counter but he cracked and Ian and I rode in to finish one-two.

VN: You finished fifth on GC at 1 minute 39 but lost 3 minutes 39 on stage one . . .

LC: It was a tough finish that day…there was a cross wind on the finish climb and more of a concern for me was Joe Dombrowski. He was our best chance for the GC, he’s a great climber.

He was second on that stage and third overall at the end; and to have the two of us make the top five on final GC – we’re just stoked!

VN: No upsets on stage two?

LC: The goal was to keep Joe safe…it wasn’t too tough a day and we finished safe in the peloton.

VN: Stage three was the time trial…

LC: I was fourth and happy with that, I gave it my all.

If you look at who finished ahead of me – Evan Huffman (California Giant) won it, he won the TT in the McLane Pacific Classic; Sutherland was second and he’s been on the podium a few times in the Australian time trial championships, and Joe Dombrowski was third.

VN: Stage four was the criterium…

LC: That’s Joe’s weakest discipline, so we rode to make sure he kept out of trouble.

At the finish I tried to set the sprint up for my team-mate, Gavin Mannion - but ninth was the best we could do.

VN: It ended up with Joe third on GC and best young rider with you fifth and second in the best young rider contest.

LC: It was ironic - I’m not really built like a climber but I won the Gila Monster stage and Joe’s the skinniest man alive and he beat me in the time trial!

People doubted our California invite, but they can’t after this performance by the team.

VN: Gila is an altitude race, you coped well…

LC: Bontrager-Livestrong gave us the opportunity to train in Boulder, Colorado to prepare…that was a huge advantage.

You could see that the riders who hadn’t had similar preparation were suffering; Boulder was a huge leg up for us.

VN: Your title sponsor changed from Trek to Bontrager – has that made a difference?

LC: Because we’re no longer tied to The Shack it means we can ride California, Utah and Colorado.

We’re no longer just a U23 team; have a couple of new guys on board from New Zealand and Belgium – and the programme is great.

VN: Have you been in Europe yet in 2012?

LC: I was over at the beginning of March; I rode the Tour of Normandie then the U23 Tours of Flanders and Picardie with the US national team, plus the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège with Bontrager.

Ian Boswell did really well at Liege; he was second.

There were no great results but I learned a lot.

VN: You made the top dozen in Flanders in 2011.

LC: That was a good result and I was hoping to improve upon it, this year.

But luck wasn’t with me, I punctured and crashed – it was really disappointing, I trained for three months for that race.

It was a big blow to the morale – I was super-pumped for that one.

VN: You were 50th in the worlds U23 time trial in Copenhagen - did you expect better?

LC: It was a really long year for me, last season.

I wasn’t mentally prepared for that and didn’t do the ride I wanted, but I learned a lot and that’ll be good for me this year.

VN: What will you do in the run up to California?

LC: We fly to California, today (this interview was done on Monday – ed.).

We’ll be doing recon on some of the stages. It’ll be the hardest race any of us have ever done, so a realistic goal for us will be just to finish.

But having said that, Joe Dombrowski is one of the best U23 climbers there is – and Ian Boswell is going very well.

We’ll all be going out to try to prove something.

VN: What’s your goal for California?

LC: I’ll be targeting the time trial; I have good morale after Gila – so we’ll see how I feel!

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