With all hope for personal victory virtually lost, American cyclist Lawson Craddock had every reason to succumb to his injuries, to exit the race, and to heal his broken body. Instead, he turned his own tragedy into a victory for a host of strangers in the city that he loves.
Two riders fell out of the Tour de France during Stage 2, one had been battling stomach problems, and the other had suffered a brutal crash. That left 176 riders to cross the finish line and to begin preparation for the Team Time Trials on the third day of the race. With a broken shoulder blade, a bit of road rash, and a number of stitches over his left eye, Lawson Craddock still chose to be one of the rider who survived to start Stage 3 instead of one of the riders who went home.
“It is during these times, in the absence of confidence and of hope, that we find ourselves left with only grit.”
Craddock, a rider for the Education First cycling team, suffered a punishing fall on Day 1 of the Tour less than halfway through the long course. It seemed that another rider had accidentally dropped a water bottle at the Stage’s feeding station. Unable to see it and unable to maneuver to avoid it inside the tightly packed and rapidly bottlenecking peloton, Craddock hit the water bottle and toppled to the pavement.
He was back up and on his bicycle so quickly that the hordes of television cameras never even caught the crash. The first images the world audience saw of Lawson Craddock after his fateful accident showed the blood pouring down the left side of his face. He would ride all day with a huge, open gash spilling blood down over his brow and into his left eye; there wouldn’t be time until the stage had concluded for the more than one dozen stitches he’d need to mend the wound.
The cut above his eye wasn’t even Lawson’s most painful injury, though. Although it wouldn’t be confirmed until the medical examination after the stage, Craddock had cracked his left shoulder blade. This meant that every tiny knick, break, or bump in the surface of the road would reverberate through his injured hand and arm…