Rider Interview: Ed Hood has been keeping an eye on James Shaw since he interviewed him as a ‘Young Gun’ stagiaire with Belgian WorldTour team, Lotto Soudal. Since then; Shaw spent two years with the Belgian formation before ‘stepping down’ to the UK based Swift Carbon Continental team for 2019. In 2020 Shaw will ride for the ProConti Riwal Readynez Cycling Team in some of the biggest races on the pro calendar, Ed caught up with him before the serious training starts.
With Swift Carbon in 2019
‘It’s not how far you fall, it’s how high you bounce.’ That’s what the Positive Mental Attitude manuals tell you. British professional rider, James Shaw must have read that one.
The former winner of the junior editions of Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne who was snapped up by Lotto Soudal was unceremoniously emptied by the Belgian team at the end of 2018; he stepped down to British continental team, Swift Carbon for 2019, got them some nice results and for 2020 has bounced back up to Danish pro continental squad, Riwal Readynez Cycling Team.
With Lotto Soudal in 2016
Riwal are a Construction machine rental service in Odense, Denmark whilst Readynez are a Computer training school in the Greve Strand, Denmark. The team had a solid 2019 with Alexander Kamp taking three UCi wins and stepping up to Trek-Segafredo for 2020 whilst Andreas Stokbro won the u23 Tour of Flanders. We had a chat with James right after his first get together with his new team.
PEZ: Congratulations on the new contract, James – stepping back up from continental level after you’ve slid down from the WorldTour isn’t an easy trick to pull off.
James Shaw: Thank you, especially if you’re at elite level, it might be easier if you were still u23? Russell Downing (long serving British ex-pro and first British rider to win a race for Team Sky back in 2010 in the Criterium International, ed.) used to ride for the Danish pro continental Cult Energy team in 2015 so he knew management who are now with Riwal, there was dialogue and they saw me in action at the Tour of Britain – a race I prepared well for – where I did OK and we negotiated a deal.
Under 23 Worlds’18
PEZ: What was it like stepping back into the UK scene for a year?
Perhaps it wasn’t an ideal team for me but when you get handed the opportunity to ride the Tours of Yorkshire and Britain then you grab it with both hands! UK racing is much less controlled than WorldTour events where there’s a formula; break goes, it’s brought back and there’s a bunch finish. In the UK it’s much less controlled and much more unpredictable – you have much more opportunity to be part of the race and get stuck in. And there are some good races – the Tour of the Reservoir has full road closure for example. It was nice to race at home for a season and despite the talk of UK racing being unstable and insecure it’s not easy – just different from the continent.
PEZ: Your new team has some handy guys?
Yes, I think they’re a bit under rated – Alex Kamp, who won a Tour of Yorkshire stage has moved up to Trek-Segafredo whilst Andreas Stokbro won the u23 Tour of Flanders and there were podiums for the team in tough races like the Tro Bro Leon and Tour of Denmark. Results like that mean they’re getting into more and bigger events.
Moving on from Swift Carbon to Riwal Readynez Cycling Team
PEZ: Has your role in the team been discussed?
I’m there for tough GC races with a few hills in there and the harder single day races; hopefully events like the Amstel and Brabantse Pijl. With regard to the GC events I intend to do more training on the TT bike to improve that aspect of my riding.
PEZ: On the subject of bikes, what’s the hardware?
Frames are by Pinarello with Shimano groupsets and wheels by the Dutch company, Scope – so no excuses about equipment!
Ryedale Grasscrete GP’19
PEZ: Will you be remaining in the UK and commuting to races?
Yes, my partner and I are house hunting at the moment, looking for something in the Nottingham/Derby area that has good rail and air connections. At the moment I’m only 20 minutes from East Midlands Airport and there’s always a family member who’ll drop me off. You have to try and minimise travel time as a pro, it takes a lot out of you.
PEZ: Have you met your new team mates yet?
I’m just back from a three day team get together in Denmark where I was able to put faces to the names. I’ll be home over Xmas then we have a training camp in Altea, near Benidorm, in Spain – I’ll probably have to spend a bit of recovery time after that…
After his Tour of the Reservoir win
PEZ: Swift Carbon must be disappointed to lose you – you gave them a couple of big UK wins, the Tour of the Reservoir and the Ryedale GP?
I think they were expecting it, in my mind I always wanted to move back up and I don’t think it came as a surprise to them.
PEZ: You were top 10 in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Test Event, won by Italy’s Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) from countryman Davide Formolo (BORA-hansgrohe) – what are the parcours like?
That was a really good race and I was very grateful that British Cycling gave me the opportunity to ride it. Whilst the race didn’t go perfectly to plan for me it was a great experience – but I think it will be a while before I ride a tougher race. The parcours is difficult, with the mountain but there’s also the 88/90 percent humidity and 30 degree plus heat – it was something else…
Handzame Classic start in Bredene
PEZ: Have you started to train for next season yet?
Yes, I’ve been back on the bike for a few weeks; I did two-and-a-half weeks in Spain, we had great weather, so that was nice – I’m really motivated for next season.
PEZ: And you’re still working with Jon Sharples at Trainsharp Cycle Coaching?
Yes, this will be my sixth year with him, since I was a junior. He saw me through that difficult time I had at the end of 2018 and we’ve moved on together – he’s keen to be involved with someone like me who’s been on WorldTour teams and has been exposed to their methods.
You can’t beat a good pizza
I want to have a solid year and make a step up; I want to be on the podium of a UCi HC race – and I want a win! The past three or four years I’ve always wanted to move forward. I was fourth in the UCi 2HC Tour of Yorkshire this year; in 2020 I want to challenge and get on that podium!
# James was helped by the Dave Rayner fund, more details at: www.daveraynerfund. #
James will soon be in Riwal Readynez Cycling Team kit
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,800 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.