For the time being, Lance Armstrong is the only Texan who has ever slipped on Spandex shorts and pedaled the historic and grueling Tour de France. But that all changes this Saturday, when Houston area native Lawson Craddock joins that exclusive club on the 2,200-mile cycling course.
The 24-year-old graduate of Cy Falls High first impressed Armstrong back in 2010, after Craddock won three U.S. junior national titles. He subsequently joined Giant-Alpecin, a professional outfit “known as probably the best developer of talent in the sport,” according to Deadspin staff writer (and former college cyclist) Patrick Redford. A poised third-place finish at the 2014 Tour of California helped establish Craddock’s bonafides. “He hasn’t yet started kicking the ass he was supposed to kick, but the dude is 24,” Redford tells us. “He's a really tough rider with great time trial skills.”
Now a member of U.S.-based Cannondale Pro Cycling, Craddock will spend 21 stages largely riding in support of team leader Pierre Rolland, a Frenchman. (Redford helpfully explains the ins and outs of the Tour in this post.) But he’s a Texan, after all, and he’s not content with moral victories. “I’m not just going to the Tour to be pack fodder.” he told the Cycling News earlier this week.
Vegas gives Craddock 500-1 odds to win. Those are long, we’ll admit. “I think it's a matter of experience more than anything,” Redford says, “and his first tour will be a huge chance for him.”
For Houstonians curious to see a local boy across the pond, NBCSN will air the Tour in its entirety. Streaming packages are also available. And for the cycling-obsessed, Bike Barn is hosting a combination bike ride and viewing party on July 17, to coincide with the Stage 15 climb up the Grand Colombier mountain pass.