Lawson Craddock at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Lawson Craddock is on the move: A Q&A with the US time trial champion

Lawson Craddock is headed to BikeExchange on a two-year deal.

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After six years with the EF Education-Nippo organization, Lawson Craddock is on the move. BikeExchange announced on Friday that the 29-year-old American would be joining the squad on a two-year deal.

Craddock will join the Australian WorldTour outfit as the reigning US time trial champion after he took a win against the clock this past June in Knoxville, Tennessee, and heading into his ninth season racing at the WorldTour level, he will bring experience racing all three Grand Tours to his new team.

Craddock explained what drove the decision to sign with BikeExchange and his expectations for the coming season in a phone conversation with CyclingTips.

CyclingTips: First off, what motivated you to sign with BikeExchange?

Lawson Craddock: Obviously they’re a team with quite a bit of history and a lot of success in the past. They’re Australian and the US-Australian connection is also quite natural as well, which was a big factor. The one that kept standing out to me about the team was just the culture surrounding it. They work hard but they also play hard and I think that fits pretty well into my ethos too.

I know quite a few guys from the team, I’ve raced with them for a long time, and you can’t help but be inspired by how they raced in the past and the success that they’ve had. They have great leaders, great leadership it seems like, and I think a combination of all that got me really excited, so when the opportunity came I really just jumped straight on it. I’m very happy and very fortunate to get the opportunity to be there next year.

CT: What’s the role that you are expecting to play, and that they’re expecting you to play, as you make the move?

LC: I think I’ve carved out a role as quite an important domestique for teams in the past. I really feel like I showed that at EF over the past couple of years. I stepped into that role and actually was pretty good at it. I think the expectation is for me to more or less be one of the main domestiques for the leaders. I really feel like I’m a jack of all trades I guess and can pretty much do anything and everything in the sport. While maybe I don’t win a lot of races, I can really be a valuable resource to teams that do. When push comes to shove, they have a sprinter with Kaden Groves and Michael Matthews, and I’ve shown that I can help the lead-outs before, I can get into breakaways with some of these guys and help them win out of them, and I’ve also shown I can climb and race pretty well uphill.

I think there’s a lot of expectation for me to be there for the team across all terrains and all races. I’m really excited about that and I think also there should be a couple more chances than I’ve had in the past where I can pursue opportunities on my own. I’m definitely stoked for that chance. You watch how the team races, how they’ve always raced, and it’s really quite aggressive. Almost every day they’re looking for a chance to win. Sometimes, a lot of times in the sport, it might not work out, it’s not as easy as it looks, but I think there’s something to be said about finishing these races and knowing you gave it all. I think that’s a big factor with BikeExchange and one of the biggest reasons I’m so excited about heading there.

Lawson Craddock racing the stage 21 time trial at the Vuelta a España.

CT: You’ve got the American time trial jersey, you’ve had success as a climber in a handful of races in the past. Do you have a sense moving forward, when you talk about the opportunities for yourself, where you plan to focus? Will it continue to be stage races, time trials, breakaways?

LC: I look at myself as a rider now and my best result days are on time trial days and days I can get into the break. For sure, I ‘d like to continue to try to focus on that. I’m not the best climber in the world, I’m not the best sprinter, the best crosswind rider in the world, but I do have enough experience in all those aspects where I can force myself into the right situation. I’m excited to keep progressing in my time trialing, would love to defend the national champion jersey again next year, and hopefully, I get the chance to do that. For me, I really just enjoy continuing to progress and for me that’s what’s going to be most important and the biggest exciting part about next year. For me it’s more about the journey to get to the best and not just being the best if that makes sense. If we can work together as a team and keep progressing and every day feel like we’re getting better, I think the success will come naturally.

CT: How are you going to look back on your time at EF?

LC: To be honest, I’m just more excited about joining BikeExchange. I had a great six years with EF but at this point just very fortunate to join the Aussies next year.

CT: It’s been eight years since you first hit the WorldTour with Giant-Shimano in 2014. What are the most important things you’ve learned over the years since you started racing at this level?

LC: Of course in your time in the WorldTour, you learn how to race and how the races progress and how to hold yourself in those situations, but for me, the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to really enjoy it. You spend a lot of time at the beginning of your career almost just floundering, kind of stuck. At least with Americans, we’re in the uncomfortable environment in Europe and all this stuff. It’s a rollercoaster almost constantly, up and down, up and down, but at this point in my career I’ve more or less learned how to be more even keel throughout the season.

I think that’s been the biggest factor, knowing what it takes day-in and day-out and also just knowing how to have fun. For me, I think that’s just being around a good group of guys, a good culture, a good environment. I think that’s really the biggest difference from my neo-pro season to almost finishing out the decade.

CT: Are you making any changes to your offseason routine this year?

LC: I’m definitely feeling pretty reinvigorated in terms of my motivation for 2022. My career’s been given a breath of fresh air and I definitely have a lot of motivation at this point in the year, in the fall. I’m starting to incorporate a bit more strength training. In the past, it’s something I didn’t feel like it agreed with me but if I focus on it and use it in the right way I think it can benefit me a lot. So a bit more strength training and overall just looking to have a a lot of fun on the bike.

CT: What would a successful 2022 look like?

LC: For sure I’d like to defend my national champion title and maybe hopefully add a road race to that too, but that’s a lot easier said than done. I think you can list out a couple of highlights from my season this year and think, ‘He had a great year,’ but to me it didn’t feel like that. I had a couple of down moments that lasted quite a long time. I was able to string together a few days but in general, as a whole, I was not left satisfied with how 2021 went for me. For me, it’s more about getting back to doing what I know I’m capable of, racing at my highest level day-in and day-out, and I think I’ll be in the right environment to make that happen.

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