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The Tour de France is entering its final week. And while many fans are waiting to see if British rider Chris Froome will win his record-tying fifth tour, the American rider in last place is also gaining attention. Florian Martin with Houston Public Media reports.
FLORIAN MARTIN, BYLINE: Lawson Craddock had big expectations for a second Tour de France, but they quickly changed during just the opening stage.
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UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: American Lawson Craddock has crashed. No updates on him, but we know he's - it's expected as nothing more than a tumble
MARTIN: Turns out it was more than just a tumble. That dropped water bottle caused the 26-year-old to crash into a spectator. He broke a shoulder blade and suffered a bad gash above his eye that needed stitches. But Craddock kept going. We spoke on the phone after the 12th stage.
LAWSON CRADDOCK: I didn't really want to just give up immediately. I was raised tougher than that, raised in Texas. We're born fighters.
MARTIN: As extra motivation, he came up with a fundraiser for the cycling track where his career started, the Alkek Velodrome in his hometown of Houston.
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MARTIN: At the velodrome, cyclists are practicing laps. Craddock's mom, Ellen, is here. She says, as a parent, she at first was concerned about his safety.
ELLEN CRADDOCK: And then we got assurances from him that, you know, this was a collective decision, the team doctors were behind him, said the fracture was stable, and he wanted to do it. And then to have this purpose behind it was - we were all in.
MARTIN: And so are the people who use the velodrome, like volunteer Kevin Duncan. He says the facility flooded all the way to the top after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August.
KEVIN DUNCAN: It puts a lot of pressure on the slabs. You have water pushing up. You have water pushing down. And then once it starts to dry out, you know, and the slabs start to contract, you get significant cracking. And that damages the track's surface, which makes it unsafe.
MARTIN: So far, Craddock has raised more than $110,000 for the velodrome. Two weeks into the Tour de France, Craddock still feels like he'll be able to finish by taking it one stage at a time.
L. CRADDOCK: Just trying to get the recovery process going a little bit and, you know, just step by step get closer and closer to Paris.
MARTIN: Craddock has six more stages and about 500 more miles to go. But for now he can take a breath because tomorrow is a rest day. For NPR News, I'm Florian Martin in Houston.
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