Unlocking Lawson <> The Biometric Data of Tour de France Rider Lawson Craddock

Earlier this year, we introduced you to American pro cyclist Lawson Craddock. In 2017, a bout with overtraining derailed Lawson's competitive season. He shared his story with us, and with the help of WHOOP gained a greater understanding of strain and recovery that let him get back on the right track in 2018.

Now, Lawson returns to cycling's biggest stage, the Tour de France. We'll be there every step of the way, with daily updates of his Recovery, Strain, Sleep, HRV and more as he competes in one of the most grueling events in all of sports.


 

 

STAGE 14 DATA - 07.21.18

Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Mende

 

 

STAGE 14 JOURNAL - 07.21.18

 

With 8 hours and 12 minutes of sleep last night, Lawson managed a 67% Recovery this morning. Through two weeks of the Tour, he's done a remarkable job keeping his Recoveries out of the red:

"I would say it was a fairly controlled day," Lawson's coach Jim Miller said in reference to today's Stage 14, "and probably not terrible for him in the back. Lawson told me last night that the peloton is smashed after the alps and everyone is pedaling squares."


 

 

CUMULATIVE TOUR DATA

Stage 14/21

 

 

STAGE 13 JOURNAL - 07.20.18

 

Lawson’s Recovery this morning was just 25%, no surprise after three straight days with Strains of 20.5 or higher.

“Today was a relatively routine day for the peloton,” he told us. “There were a lot of tired legs (including mine) after three incredibly difficult stages in the Alps. My main focus was just on making it to the finish safely, and without spending too much energy.”

Lawson’s Strain today was “only” 16.1 for his 3-hour and 49-minute ride, his lowest of the Tour.

“The next few stages are ideal for breakaways,” he added, “so the biggest thing now is to make sure we’re getting the best recovery possible to be fresh for when it really counts. My body is slowly heading in the right direction, and I’m really hoping to be a part of the action in the upcoming days.”

 

Photo credit: Cor Vos


 

 

STAGE 12 JOURNAL - 07.19.18

 

Today’s Stage 12, from Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs to Alpe d'Huez, concluded with what many refer to as “the greatest climb in cycling.” “Legendary” and “iconic” are the words regularly used to describe the breathtaking 13.8-kilometer stretch featuring 21 switchbacks and an average gradient of 8.1%.

Riders also took on the Alpe d'Huez on the heels of two epic HC climbs earlier in the stage (climbs are categorized from 5 to 1, Category 1 being the steepest with the exception of HC, which comes from the French term “Hors Categorie,” meaning “above category”).

Yesterday, Lawson’s coach Jim Miller said the pain in his shoulder was causing him to struggle both with right hand turns and getting out of the saddle to accelerate uphill--neither of which boded well for what he faced today. Additionally, Lawson mentioned that the continued efforts were beginning to take their toll.

Yet somehow, Lawson once again overcame all the odds.

After logging Strains of 20+ in each of the last three days, Lawson astonishingly posted a 60% Recovery this morning heading into today’s brutal stage. He went on to finish 42nd overall out of the 153 riders remaining in the race, by far his best showing to date. He did so with a 20.7 Strain, also his highest of the Tour.

"Lawson reported he felt much more like himself again," Miller told us. "He really felt good on the Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Croix de Fer [the stage's two HC climbs]." 

Amongst a string of spectacular performances, today’s took it to a whole other level. Lawson went from simply hoping to survive each day to actually thriving in the toughest stage yet.

 

Photo credit: Cor Vos


 

 

STAGE 11 JOURNAL - 07.18.18

 

Despite his most strenuous ride of the Tour yesterday, Lawson still managed a yellow Recovery this morning after getting nearly eight hours of sleep. He needed it.

"It was a nasty day," his coach Jim Miller told us. "The stage had 11,000 feet of climbing, over which Lawson posted a 261 TSS and a 308w NP for 4 hours and 10 minutes. And with all that, he still finished 26 minutes behind the stage winner. It is hard to convey just how good these guys are."

"Lawson told me that his real problem right now is handling the accelerations uphill," Miller added. "He can't really get out of the saddle and generate a ton of power, and he’s also struggling with right hand turns. The muscle group in his injured left shoulder is responsible for controlling that movement. But he is very motivated to finish this tour now, so we can expect that he is going to make the gruppettos (check yesterday’s Stage 10 journal for an explanation) every day."

As more and more riders fail to make the time cut and get knocked out of the race, Lawson keeps soldiering on.

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber

Power data provided by Training Peaks


 

 

STAGE 10 JOURNAL - 07.17.18

 

Following a much-needed rest day, Lawson awoke this morning with a 70% Recovery, in the green for the second time in the past three days.

“While I’ve made improvements in my recovery, I’m still quite sore from the Roubaix stage,” he told us. “Today was a rough day for me. I felt better than expected on the first climb, but that feeling was short lived. I suffered over the second mountain pass, but once we hit Col de Romme I was cooked. I struggled mightily to maintain contact with the gruppetto, and forced myself to only look at the next kilometer.”

The gruppetto is a second group of riders that forms behind the main peloton, usually on big climbing days (notice the elevation gain and the course profile in the Stage 10 data graphic above). It generally consists of sprinters and other riders who’ve done their work for the day. Their goal is to work together to finish under the time cut.

The 20.6 Strain Lawson posted today was his highest since the race began.

“All the efforts from the last ten days are beginning to add up,” he added. “I’m really starting to feel the Tour de France in my legs, so it’s paramount for me to focus on recovery going forward.”

 

Photo credit: Cor Vos


 

 

REST DAY JOURNAL - 07.16.18

 

For the first time in more than two weeks, Lawson's Strain is below his Recovery:

The 9.0 Day Strain he posted today is actually his lowest since June 29, a week before the Tour began. Lawson clearly stayed true to his word and used the day off the bike to relax and heal his body. Here he is taking a peak at his WHOOP data:

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 09 JOURNAL - 07.15.18

 

Lawson battled through the treacherous cobblestones of Roubaix in Stage 09, aided by his first green Recovery in a week (75%) and his highest since the Tour began.

"That one was really rough on the body," he told us. "I was mentally prepared to fight and help the team out today, but when the flag dropped my nerves got the better of me. My day pretty much turned into pure survival once the race started. While my shoulder was stable, I still felt every cobblestone that I rode over. It was suffering like I’ve never experienced before. I’m very happy to make it to the rest day tomorrow, and look forward to getting into the mindset of contributing to the team."

What's Lawson's plan for the rest day prior to Stage 10?

"Tomorrow will be entirely focused on rehab and recovery, he said. "My body took quite a beating today, so we’ll have to pay a lot of attention to it tomorrow. Plus, I’ll just take a moment or two to really relax. The last nine days have been extremely stressful."

Lawson's coach, Jim Miller, echoed a similar sentiment. "I think it's a big opportunity for Lawson to get some additional sleep," Miller said. "He's feeling better and better everyday, I think he has a good chance to make it to Paris. He is also hopeful he'll be able to start contributing more to the team. With the mountains looming, they're going to need him."

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 08 JOURNAL - 07.14.18

 

Fueled by his highest Recovery (48%) since Sunday, Lawson had his best finish yet in Stage 08. However, in Stage 09 tomorrow, 22k of cobblestones await on the ride from Arras to Roubaix. It's a brutal stretch of roads for any cyclist to handle and not something most are accustomed to--let alone one competing with a fractured shoulder.

"Tomorrow is the big day," said Lawson's coach Jim Miller. "If he can get through it, then he has a chance at going to distance."

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 07 JOURNAL - 07.13.18

 

Lawson completed Stage 07 today, spending more than six hours on the bike. It was a long, mostly flat stage referred to as “boring” by a number of riders. With a full week of the Tour now in the books, here’s a look at Lawson’s Strain and Recovery through the first seven days:

The only day Lawson didn’t post a Strain pushing 20 was during Monday’s team time trial, which lasted less than an hour. He seems to have found a bit of a groove, keeping his Recoveries consistently in the yellow despite the enormous amount of Strain he’s taking on.

Lawson has managed to pull this off in part by drastically improving his nightly sleep performances:

After getting just five hours of sleep Saturday night into Sunday while fighting through the pain of his fractured scapula, he’s been steadily improving his sleep every since, topping eight hours each of the past three nights.

Yesterday, Lawson mentioned that his efforts were beginning to take their toll on him physically, particularly as his body tries to heal itself under the stress of intense competition. You can see this trend in his daily HRV:

“The first week definitely wasn’t what I envisioned it would be,” Lawson told us. “I’ve spent the better part of the week rehabbing my shoulder from crashing on the first day. My body’s ability to recover from the Tour de France has taken a back seat to my fractured shoulder blade. But even though it hasn’t been a great situation, every step has been more or less the best-case scenario. I’ve come leaps and bounds in regards to my injuries, and this has given me great hope going forwards. These next two days before the rest day will be crucial in my fight to reach Paris.”


 

 

STAGE 06 JOURNAL - 07.12.18

 

After a second consecutive night of 8+ hours of sleep, this morning Lawson had his best Recovery (46%) in four days. He fought through another long day of riding, spending 4 hours and 53 minutes on the bike and posting a Strain over 18 for the sixth straight day.

“Following yesterday Lawson was really upbeat,” his coach Jim Miller said. “He was able to get out of the saddle, the pain has reduced quite significantly and overall he feels that he's heading in the right direction. However, he did acknowledge that the effort is starting to take its toll. With a couple of sprint days coming up, he should be in good shape for now. The real test is what to do with Stage 09 and the cobblestones. That's a question I think Lawson’s medical team will need to discuss and answer over the next few days.”

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 05 JOURNAL - 7.11.18

 

“I’m doing better.”

“After yesterday, I was quite worried about today,” Lawson told us. “The last 100 kilometers were really tricky with small roads, twists and turns, and loads of climbs,” he said, brutal things for a cyclist to handle while trying to compete with a fracture bone in his shoulder.

“My biggest focus yesterday was on my recovery,” Lawson added. “I’ve been seriously lacking sleep since I crashed, so I made it a priority to get as much as I could last night. I got to bed immediately after dinner, and was able to get about 9 hours of quality sleep before being woken up for doping control. This was a huge factor today, I felt considerably better than the previous days. I was even able to get out of the saddle every so often for the first time, and I could feel my body starting to really respond to the treatment I’ve received. I’ll take today as a small victory and hope that this trend continues!”

Lawson managed 9 hours and 40 minutes in bed last night, a major improvement over the past several days. It may have been the difference in helping him hang on and see another day. He’s willing his body to do just enough to stay in the race, while also trying to heal in the process.

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 04 JOURNAL - 07.10.18

 

Lawson gutted out another strong performance today, hanging with the peloton for most of the stage. Here’s what his coach Jim Miller had to say about the challenges Lawson faced in fighting through his shoulder injury:

“The second half of today’s race was very fast and relentless. For Lawson, this spelled trouble as he continues to recover from his fractured scapula. In the event there is sudden braking, which there always is, he doesn't want to be unable to brake and crash again. In the back of the peloton he feels its accordion effect much more than the riders near the front do. That means Lawson does roughly twice as many little deceleration/accelerations as he would if he were positioned near the front. Because of his injury he’s also unable to get out of the saddle and stand up to accelerate, so as he decelerates and accelerates he has to do it all with just his legs. As the day, and for that matter the week, wear on, this will really begin to take a toll.”

Miller added that Lawson was able to make it to the final 36k before he started “yoyo-ing” off the back of the peloton. He came off for good at 22k to go, losing 3 minutes and 48 seconds.

“Considering what he’s dealing with, it was a great ride. It really shows how well prepared he was coming into this Tour,” Miller said.

Lawson was able to get his Recovery back in the yellow this morning, aided by 6 hours and 12 minutes of sleep, the most he’s gotten since the Tour began (although still a ways off from what his body needs). Check back tomorrow to see if he can keep trending in the right direction!

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber


 

 

STAGE 03 JOURNAL - 07.09.18

 

Despite the continued pain of the fracture in his shoulder, another rough night’s sleep and a 30% Recovery this morning, Lawson performed remarkably in Stage 03, helping his team EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale to a sixth-place finish (39’21) in today’s extremely fast team time trial.

“Lawson did so much more than anyone expected of him today,” said his coach Jim Miller. “The thing about Lawson is he doesn't like to let anyone down, so he clearly gave as much as he had to give. He ended up riding 32k [of the 35.5k] with the team, with a NP of 405w and had 14 peak powers above 700w. That's solid without a fractured scapula, but even more impressive given what he was working with. He really should not have been able to do that, it was unbelievable.”

“This morning was another rough one,” Lawson told us. “I woke up stiff as a corpse and took a while to loosen up. Between waking up and the start I pretty much spent all my free time with either our chiropractor, Matt Rabin, or our doctor, Kevin Sprouse. They helped loosen up the muscles surrounding my shoulder as much as possible and that ended up making the biggest difference during the TTT. While I still wasn’t pain free, I was at least able to manage the pain and this allowed me to contribute to the team.”

“It was pretty much the best case scenario,” Lawson added. “At the end of the day we finished 6th on the stage, a great result for us. It gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”

Yesterday, Lawson said he was very nervous about the TTT and wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep up during one of the Tour’s fastest stages. Miller noted that a few nights of bad sleep could really set a rider back. Amazingly, Lawson was able to will himself across the line today after getting just 55% of the 10 hours and 55 minutes of sleep his body needed last night. Can he buck this trend heading into Stage 04?

“Tonight will be more of the same in terms of trying to recover,” he said. “Once we get to the hotel it will be straight to Rabin to continue the work on the soft tissue, and then dinner to refuel for the remainder of the race. Every day is going to be a new challenge for me, but the support I have received from everyone has motivated and inspired me beyond words.”

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber

Power data provided by Training Peaks


 

 

STAGE 02 JOURNAL - 07.08.18

 

"The next few days won’t be easy by any stretch, but I know I’m in good hands."

As a pro athlete, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than spending your life training for a moment, only to have it go completely opposite of how you planned. For Lawson, yesterday was not about the physical pain of the injuries he sustained--it was about the mental hurdles he had to overcome in order to push forward.

"I’ve dealt with pain my whole life," Lawson told us, "and have been able to make a career out of it. It was the mental aspect of seeing the X-rays to confirm I had fractured my scapula that was the toughest to deal with. Seeing the separation of the bones on that black and white screen felt like someone had just put a knife into my heart."

Last night, Lawson did everything he could to prepare for Stage 02. Armed with a world-class medical team and supportive teammates, he focused on the facts: He was fit, he knew his body, and he knew what he needed to do to recover.

This morning, he woke up in the green with an elevated HRV of 109 and a low RHR of 41, both solid results relative to Lawson’s usual baselines. While that may seem surprising for a guy who just raced 120 miles and sustained injuries, according to WHOOP physiologists, the markers are not unexpected and the sign of a well-trained body waiting to do its work.

"It was an encouraging sign to see my HRV and recovery bounce back today," Lawson added. "Especially when I knew what I was in store for. One thing that I have noticed since tracking my HRV with WHOOP is that I often have a delayed reaction in terms of recovery. I can finish a hard training block, take a day easy, and still have a poor recovery. It’s not usually until I jump back into training or racing that my recovery scores will jump up. This has been very useful info when it comes to planning my training with my coach, Jim Miller, heading into a big event."

Lawson’s Sleep Performance, obviously impacted by the discomfort of his injuries, was poor. According to Miller, this is something they will have to keep an eye on, as "A couple nights of that and you put yourself in a big hole."

Lawson completed Stage 02 today with a 4:26 race time, a Strain of 20.5, 275 NP and 221 TSS. He now looks ahead at the daunting task of tomorrow’s Team Time Trial--a flat out 100% effort to help the team AND get himself to the finish line within the day’s time cut.

We’re honored to follow his journey as he competes, and we’re amazed by his resilience.

 

Photo credit: Jered and Ashley Gruber

Power data provided by Training Peaks


 

 

STAGE 01 JOURNAL - 07.07.18

 

Unfortunately for Lawson, the first stage did not go as planned. He awoke with a red Recovery after a subpar night's sleep, pinned an unlucky No. 13 to his jersey before the race, and later suffered a hard crash in the first feed station.

"Stage 01 was all going according to plan until the feed zone," Lawson told us. "A rider dropped a full bottle in the middle of the road, and with our tires being only 25mm wide it might as well have been a hand grenade when I hit it full on. I rocketed off the road, hit a spectator, and flew over the bars into a ditch. I ended up getting back on the bike, and suffered all the way to the finish. After doping control (part of the job...) and X-rays it was revealed I had a fracture in my scapula. Not an ideal start to the Tour de France. Our doctors say that it is stable, and as long as I can ride safely and not put others in danger than I might be able to continue. I will give it my best go today and fight as much as I can."

Lawson credited his teammates for being incredibly supportive in helping him finish. Notice in the video below he's wearing his No. 13 upside down, something cyclists do to avoid bad luck when they draw that number.

“I’m not just going home at the first sign of adversity," Lawson said. "So I’ll see how I feel tonight, how I sleep, how I feel in the morning and get on the bike and see if I can manage it.”

It will be quite a test for Lawson to compete tomorrow. He posted a 20.3 Day Strain after a red Recovery, and incurred a good portion of that Strain with a fractured scapula. Sleeping tonight with his shoulder injury may be difficult. His body will also be trying to heal itself, on top of recovering from his efforts. No doubt he's drained mentally and emotionally as well. The deck appears stacked against him, how will his body respond to the challenge?

Whatever tomorrow holds, we're rooting for you Lawson. We're in awe of the work that got you here and the grit you showed today. Good luck tomorrow.


 

 

PRE TOUR JOURNAL - 07.06.18

 

"I’m definitely looking forward to getting the Tour started tomorrow," Lawson told us. "It’s really in the days leading up to the Grand Depart that you realize the magnitude of this particular race. While all you want to do is lay on your bed and relax, your days are quite stressful with a packed schedule including press conferences, interviews and team presentation. It’s almost a relief when you wake up on race day and realize the real reason why you came to France. And then the real stress begins... I can’t wait!"

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