EF Education First-Drapac rider Lawson Craddock has become the first rider in the history of the Tour de France to hold the position of Lanterne Rouge – the last man on the general classification – for the entire duration of the race in in doing so has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a good cause.
@lawsoncraddock is the first rider ever in the history of @letour to keep his last posistion during the 21 stages of Le Tour.
@lawsoncraddock est le premier coureur de l'histoire du @LeTour à conserver sa position de lanterne rouge du début à la fin.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 30, 2018
The 26-year-old crashed on the opening stage of the race but remounted his bike to finish it and then needed stitches to be put in a laceration above his eye and was discovered to have broken his scapula.
He was determined to carry on with the race, however, and moreover resolved to raise money for a good cause – his local velodrome in Houston, Texas, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey in August last year.
“It’s been an incredibly testing three weeks,” Craddock said. “I’ve pushed myself well beyond my limits. There were many times during the race that I wasn’t sure if I could make it, but the encouragement and generosity the whole world has shown me motivated me every step of the way. To reach the finish line in Paris has been incredibly emotional.”
His ongoing participation in the race was a team effort, with the rider needing three chiropractic sessions each day, regular consultations with the team’s medical staff, as well as help from fellow riders and the EF Education First-Drapac sports directors.
He came up with the idea of raising money for the Alkek Velodrome on the night after the crash as something that would give him a target to aim at and “a way to turn a negative in a positive.”
Craddock decided to donate $100 for every stage he completed to the track where he first started racing and, through social media, challenged other people to donate.
The following morning, he awoke to messages from people asking how they could donate, so he set up a GoFundMe page, his story quickly going viral as it was picked up by media outlets worldwide.
He has now raised more than $225,000 – equivalent to more than $10,000 for every stage he rode – and it also helped give him the motivation to continue riding.
“Without the fundraiser, I probably would have gone home a couple of weeks ago,” he explained. “Especially in the days immediately after the crash and in the recovery process, I drew a lot of motivation from the campaign. It’s going to change the future of the track.”
Jonathan Vaughters, the CEO of the team’s management company, Slipstream Sports, said: “It was a very selfless thing Lawson did – to stay in the race and to raise money for the velodrome he grew up racing on.
“Across the board, the team was also very selfless in supporting him on a day-to-day basis to get him through the race.
“From the first day, when he broke the scapula, from Pierre Rolland opening up gels for him to feed him at the very back to the incredible work our chiro did.”
He added: “In the end, it was down to Lawson’s grit and his determination. He did that with a lot of panache and a lot of honour.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.