Resplendent in their psychedelic team colours, James Shaw and his Ribble Weldtite team joined the peloton on this month’s Tour of Britain.
Beginning on Sunday gone, with Penzance to Bodmin, Ribble Weldtite, and Shaw himself, kept themselves in the hunt throughout, mixing it with the main, pro-cycling teams out en-force, those of Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Israel Start-Up.
That first outing, on a race-day plagued by rain throughout, would see the peloton endure its first set of climbs, they taking on three ‘official’ category three climbs and would be a day that saw Tour favourite, Wout Van Aert (Belgium, Jumbo-Visma), finish at the front of the field in a time of 4hr 33’ 36” followed by Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands, Team DSM) and Gonzalo Sorrano Rodriguez (Spain, Movistar).
The RW team, led by James Shaw, crossed the line in 12th position, whilst his nearest team-mates were Matthew Gibson (33) and Charles Page (34).
Stage Two, Sheford to Exeter, was highlighted by a stunning, final 25km breakaway victory ride from the American Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling), crossing the finish in 4hr 45’ 56” with Ineos rider, Ethan Hayter some 33 seconds behind in second place.
It was a good day out for the Ribble Weldtite riders as well, Shaw finishing in 11th to maintain his Grand Classification placing, whilst Gibson came in just three places further back, in 14th from what was a strong day by them.
The team time trials were next up, as the peloton made the journey into Wales for the first of two, consecutive days, this being Llandeilo to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales.
Granted that belonged to the Ineos Grenadiers powerhouses, although it could easily have gone to Jumbo-Visma. The latter took over from RW after Shaw et al had posted a decent trial time of 21:31:00 that was paced at an average speed of 50.8KM/H; that time stood until the Jumbo-Visma, amidst a few issues in the latter stages, took some 48 seconds off RW, and Ineos, with Deceuninck-QuickStep sandwiched between, took the stage with an impressive time themselves of 20:22:00, averaging 53.6KM/H.
These races do come with issues as most, if not all, will attest to, and the same can be said of the RW team who, after the time trials, divulged mechanical issues (snapped chain with Si Wilson) hindered them, James Shaw being quoted with Cycling Weekly.
“We were basically a man down from the start. It feels like everything that could have gone wrong probably did.
“It’s not a disaster, but we know we’re capable of more.”
The team carried on and, having posted a respectable 8th place finish, +1:09” behind Ineos, took their form into Stage Four, and at the end, the Tour’s halfway stage.
Again in Wales, the Peloton took on what was the Queens Stage, this highlighted by the grand-stage finish on the mountaintops, Van Aert and Juliann Alaphilippe going at it hammer-and-tongs at the last, as for Shaw, he kept himself on the coat-tails of the tour front-riders.
Day Four would take the peloton from Aberaeron to Llandudno, and Shaw’s team-mate at RW, Gruff Lewis, would form part of an early breakaway, he on home soil as they built up a decent lead heading into the first of the three, category two climbs, on show.
The major climb, a category one of Eidda’s Well (Snowdonia), it being taken by Canyon-DhB rider, Jacob Scott, but, come the final sprint, it would be Van Aert, with his second stage win of the tour, that would finish ahead of the pack, just.
The Belgian edged out Alaphilippe at the last, with Canada’s Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) in third whilst (inc. Alaphilippe) there were two riders apiece from Deceuninck-QuickStep and Ineos Grenadiers in the top ten; Shaw meanwhile, would finish the day’s proceedings in 22nd, 00:47” behind the front-runners.
As far as the Grand Classification standings are concerned, at the halfway stage, Wout Van Aert holds a slender advantage over Ethan Hayter, with Julian Alaphilippe ten seconds back in third place.
A little under two minutes off the lead, RW’s Nottingham rider, James Shaw, holds 14th in the GC, sandwiched between that of Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez, and Maxime Bouet (Team Arkea-Samsic); his nearest team-mate being Matthew Gibson, in 38th, some 06:40 behind the lead as the peloton heads into the second half of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @JamesthingyShaw sitting in the top 14 at the half way stage.