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"Ever since I signed my pro contract with Argos-Shimano this is what I have been focusing on so I go out and give it my all and I will reap everything it until there is no more skin," Craddock tells CyclingQuotes


Photo: Sirotti


26.09.2013 @ 21:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard, Florence

Young American talent Lawson Craddock wants to leave the U23 ranks with a bang before starting his pro career at Argos-Shimano and has put everything into an attempt to become U23 world champion. Being part of a homogeneous unit, he expects the American team to play a prominent role in tomorrow's race.


During the last couple of seasons, Lawson Craddock has marked himself out as one of the most talented American stage racers. Top 10 finishes against the pros in the Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge have earned him a contract with Argos-Shimano for the 2014 season that will see him leave his current Bontrager Pro Cycling Team.


Craddock wants to leave the U23 ranks  in the best possible way and has put everything into one big attempt to become U23 world champion tomorrow. The hilly course in Florence suits the 21-year-old and his climbing legs and he showed great form when he finished 5th on a flat course in Monday's time trial.


While he never expected to win the time trial and was happy with his result, it is different when it comes to tomorrow's race.


"I've stood on every step of the podium at the world championships except the top step," he told a couple of media, including CyclingQuotes, after Monday's time trial. "Ever since I signed my pro contract with Argos-Shimano, this is what I have been focusing on. I’m going to go out and leave everything on the road, and hopefully that’s not more skin.”


The main circuit contains two major climbs and the U23 riders will repeat it 7 times during their 173km race. The toughness of the course has been heavily debated but Craddock expects it to be one that suits his strengths as a climber. He doesn't expect to launch one big attack and sees it more as a gradual elimination race.


"I think it's going to be a race of attrition," he said. "It's going to come down to the last 2 or 3 laps on that climb. We're going to do 7 laps in total and each time it is just going to wear on you. I just have to stay safe and play it smart. You can't use too much energy too early. It's going to be a wide open race and it's going to be a really good one. It's just survival of the fittest."


Having already seen the course, he knows what is coming.


"We've done the climb, we've done our research, we've done the work," he said. "Now it's just time to put it to good use."


Craddock is part of a strong American team that consists of 5 riders from his Bontrager team. While the decision to purely select riders from one team have been debated in the USA, Craddock finds it completely justified.


"It's all guys from the Bontrager Pro Cycling Team," he said. "Some people were not happy about it but I think if you look at the results these guys have had and the fact that we've ridden together all year, it all makes sense. It's Nathan Brown who did the time trial here today and finished in the top 15, Gavin Mannion who was top 10 in the Tour de l'Avenir, Nathan Wilson who was top 5 at Ronde de l'Isard, Tanner Putt who is U23 national champion, and myself. I think it's a really strong team and one of the strongest collective teams that USA has brought in recent years."


None of the riders have been singled out as pre-race leader.


"I think the greatest thing about racing with the team we have here is that we go in as a team and as a unit," he said. "We are going to make a decision on the road. All of us have a really good shot. We have a good chance of having all 5 of us in the lead group in the end. So we're just going to make a plan on the road and hopefully one of us ends up there."


Asked to name his main rivals, he points to the usual suspects.


"On Friday, it's going to be wide open," he said. "You have Jasper Stuyven from Belgium, you have the Yates brothers from Great Britain but I think you can't count out the USA. It's going to be an incredibly hard race."


CyclingQuotes also asked Craddock about his decision to join Argos-Shimano for 2014. You can read more about that here.



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