REPORT: A ‘small victory’ for EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale in stage three Tour de France TTT

    EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale time trialled to sixth place in Cholet on the third stage of the Tour de France. Rigoberto Uran, Pierre Rolland, Sep Vanmarcke, Dani Martinez and Tom Scully stopped the clock at 38’46 following the 35.5km effort. The time is 35 seconds down on stage winners BMC, 31 seconds on Team Sky, 26 seconds on Mitchelton-SCOTT and 23 seconds on Team Sunweb.

    “We feel great about that,” said Taylor Phinney. “In the past we usually would lose one minute, sometimes one-minute-and-a-half, two minutes. We worked really hard before this race. Everyone was committed. I went pretty deep. To lose 35 seconds, considering what happened on the first stage, the time we gained on a couple guys. We’re very happy with how today went. It’s a small victory.”’

    There was a second small victory today, too. Not content to be merely a passenger, Lawson Craddock’s dogged determination was on full display as he contributed to the effort throughout the second intermediate time check. The Texan fell off the train only three kilometers from the finish line.

    “When we recon’d the course, I didn’t have a good feeling after that,” said Craddock. “I was in quite a bit of pain after the recon, even during the last 10 kilometers out on course. We really dug deep into my shoulder before the start of the race, and that made the biggest difference today.

    “It was still quite painful,” Craddock noted. “I put 90 percent of my weight on my right forearm, right shoulder. We’ll need to work on that tonight now. I’m just really happy to be able to do something for the team today and hopefully take this as a good step moving forward.”

    “It was super impressive,” Phinney noted. “You know, he had a rough year last year. A lot of teams wrote him off at the end of the season. He worked really hard to come back, especially to this race. The Tour is unique in how it tests you in really difficult ways. To crash like that on the first stage and push through shows that he really wants it, he really wants to be here. It gives the whole team a lot of motivation.”

    While Craddock provides the team motivation, he’s found motivation in an opportunity to give back. He took to Twitter on Saturday evening, announcing that he planned to donate $100 for every stage he finished to the Hurricane Harvey-impacted Alkek Velodrome.

    The response has been overwhelming. Craddock launched a GoFundMe page on Sunday evening. Less than 24 hours later, as the team time trial came to a close, Craddock had raised $17,769 for Houston’s cycling community.

    “I’m truly blown away,” said Craddock. “This is the reason why I had a good day today. I can guarantee that. I’m truly inspired by all the support I’ve gotten over the last few days. I’m praying for another 17 days like this.”

    The team’s effort on stage three afforded Rigoberto Uran a nine place jump on the general classification. The Colombian now rounds out the top ten, 35 seconds down on new race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). Of the riders most likely to challenge for the general classification, only Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) are currently placed higher.

    Road captain Simon Clarke pointed to the team’s new equipment as a critical factor in Monday’s performance. #PinkArgyle rode the new Cannondale Super Slice equipped with Vision Metron wheels (Metron 81 in front, Metron Disc in back) and Vittoria Corsa Speed Tubeless Tires.

    “This TTT has been a target for this team since the Tour de France route was announced at the end of last year,” said Clarke. “Andreas Klier, in particular, has basically organized his life for the last eight months around providing us with the best time trial equipment possible. The effort he put into wheels and tire combinations was huge, and we were also on the new Cannondale TT bike as well.

    “I can’t thank the EF Pro Cycling organization enough for the efforts that went into behind the scenes to make today’s result happen,” Clarke added. “I would nearly go as far as saying that they provided us with the result. The bike they gave us, we flew on it. It was a really special feeling.”

    #PinkArgyle heads into Tuesday’s stage four in high spirits. The route, on paper, is a day for the sprinters.

    “It looks like it will be windy tomorrow,” said sport director Tom Southam. “It if it, it’s going to be a nervous day.”

    Visit ProCyclingStats for complete stage three results.