SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

An inspiring last place Tour de France cyclist

Lawson Craddock became finished last place in the Tour de France, claiming the Lanterne Rouge, but won something important for his hometown velodrome.

Posted: Aug 4, 2018 6:49 AM
Updated: Aug 4, 2018 7:07 AM

When Lawson Craddock set off on his first Tour de France in July, he knew the course would be challenging.

But he had no idea the next three weeks would involve so much pain.

Craddock ran over an errant water bottle and crashed on the very first day, fracturing a shoulder blade and gashing his face above his left eye.

He had 80 kilometers to ride before he could get a diagnosis, then deliberated on whether to carry on for the next 3,400 kilometers.

"It was definitely not the Tour de France that I imagined," the 26-year-old Houston native told CNN Sport. "I pretty much knew immediately that there was damage to my shoulder. I had blood pouring down my face, and it's pretty disappointing to start the Tour de France that way."

Remarkably, the prospect of riding with intense pain for 20 days -- and perhaps suffering more damage -- didn't dissuade him.

And despite the dubious honor of coming last of all the 145 finishers in Paris -- known as the "lanterne rouge" -- Craddock was far from a loser.

READ: Bale, Warburton, Thomas -- the Welsh school that breeds sporting greats

READ: Geraint Thomas wins historic Tour de France

'Kept me inspired'

His determination was fueled in the first place by missing most of 2017 with overtraining syndrome.

"I missed the Tour de France last year and it was a big disappointment, so I knew the feeling of being at home watching it on the couch knowing that you should be there," he said.

"I didn't want that feeling in July again, so I put in a ton of work just to make the team this year and return to the highest level in cycling.

"Halfway through the first stage with the prospect of going home (was), to me, more painful than pushing through the discomfort in my shoulder and fighting on until the finish."

Then there was his pledge to help rebuild his hometown velodrome in Houston, which had been damaged by Hurricane Harvey last year.

Through his shoe sponsor, Craddock had already organized an auction for a pair of custom cycling shoes. But he raised the ante with a crowdfunding campaign launched with his $100 pledge for each stage he could finish with his injuries.

"After the crash I wasn't sure I would be there long enough to see the auction continue, so I was just kind of looking for other ways to help out," he explained. "That's where the inspiration came from."

As the support poured in for Craddock's cause -- it has now gone beyond $250,000 -- his confidence and determination to finish cycling's holy grail continued.

"It blew my mind how quickly it really took off," he said. "The first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I looked at before going to bed was the progress we'd make for the velodrome.

"To see the way it grew and people's generosity is really what kept me in the race, and what kept me inspired."

READ: Chris Froome pulled off bike by French policeman

'Suffering like I've never experienced before'

Craddock endured some hairy moments, particularly navigating the 13-mile cobblestone stretch of Stage 9 near the Belgian border, which he described as "suffering like I've never experienced before."

"The Tour de France is so brutal in the first place, it's difficult enough just to make it through healthy," he said. "I couldn't sit the way that I normally sit, I couldn't ride the way that I normally rode, so it was incredibly challenging.

"A lot of different things kept popping up in my head. I woke up every morning not sure if I was going to be racing the next day or if I was going to be on a flight home that night."

Racing for the Colorado-based EF Education First team, Craddock was dosed up on over-the-counter painkillers, though he still experienced "a lot of discomfort in the shoulder, for sure."

"A lot of muscles just surround the area and kind of seize and contract around the fracture, trying to just protect it," Craddock explained, adding that he underwent "daily rehab and massages just to handle the load."

"While it wasn't ideal, we were able to work with what we had," he said. "Fortunately, I had great staff working on me all the time."

Craddock was also aided by a wrist monitor that kept track of his sleep, along with his general fitness, and allowed him to "just put a number on how my recovery has gone."

"So all these small things we were able to piece together, and things like that kept my body able to compete," he said. "It was just three weeks of just pushing my body past limits that I didn't really know existed."

On July 29, Craddock rode the final stretch of the Tour de France, down Paris' Champs-Élysées and past the Arc de Triomphe, with his wife, parents and brother cheering him on.

His overall time put him more than four-and-a-half hours behind winner Geraint Thomas, but he was probably the happiest last place finisher in history.

"It was a big weight off my shoulders, literally," he said.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features and videos

"As a professional athlete, you love to push your body to the limit and beyond," he said. "I want to go back in the future and get another crack -- hopefully healthy next time."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 94°
Mason City
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 99°
Albert Lea
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 98°
Charles City
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Heat Advisory in effect until 7pm
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Free masks in Rochester

Image

Boys & Girls Club back open

Image

Rochester Elementary School releases plans

Image

Working in the heat

Image

Potential job cuts for Austin city employees

Image

Free memory screenings being offered during pandemic

Image

1K Mile March: Alabama to Minneapolis

Image

Changes being considered to city fireworks ordinance

Image

'Look Before you Lock' Initiative

Image

Dave's Noon Weather 7/8

Community Events