Over the past few weeks, here at The Nottingham Sport, we’ve been in-depth in the career of Nottingham’s professional cyclist, James Shaw.
Following in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before, riders of the ilk of Tom Simpson (read more of Tom HERE), Bryan Steel (Olympics, bronze 2000, silver 2004, plus numerous World Championships and Commonwealth Games medals, in the team pursuit event), and Paul Smith (read this 2008 feature via The Guardian), he whose career was cut short due to injury at the tender age of just 18 years; James though, he’s back for what is a second opportunity among the pro riders.
Having spent this past year, the year 2021, riding for north-east based outfit, Ribble Weldtite, in what was, overall, a relatively successful one for both team, and rider.
It was to be a year that, for Shaw, was highlighted by some fantastic riding at the AJ Bell Tour of Britain, and that ride into Gateshead (from Carlisle), where Shaw would finish in a stunning fifth place – his successes on the bike, on the road, would lead to his being selected as one of the 2022 riders for EP Education Nippo.
It wasn’t easy though, for the Nottinghamshire rider, as Shaw, like many others, feeling the effects from, and having to pick himself up, after a pandemic-stricken, previous year.
“I managed to work something out (with Ribble) even though nobody knew what was going to happen, we just had to carry on the best we could,” admitted Shaw about his joining Ribble Weldtite in what was a global pandemic.
“I had to continue backing up my previous results, build up my confidence, and show that I was still capable of doing this.
“Without them (Ribble), who knows what would have happened.”
Throughout Shaw’s year with the Ribble team, results would see him finish on third at the Time Trial Road Championships, fifth in both the Tour of Norway and Tour of Slovenia, and fourteenth at the Tour of Britain, among other plaudits and accolades.
“That heading into Gateshead, during the Tour of Britain, was a personal highlight,” beamed James.
“I just wish that we (Ribble) would have had more luck throughout the year really, but, a lot of the time, it was out of our control really.
“Moving to Education Nippo however, it’s afforded me security – I was able to finish this last season, knowing my future was sorted – I just had to go out there and do what I do.
“Now though, in this off-season, it’ll give me the time to chill, to relax, which is something I’ve not had a chance to do for some time.”
Now, looking ahead, it is just that for the cyclist, moving forward with a secure contract tucked away with Education Nippo.
So, what is Shaw thinking, in regards his moving forward, his taking the next steps?
“Even though the past couple of years have been really tough, with the not knowing what each year will bring, it’s time for me to settle, and invest in what I know I can do,” continued James.
“It feels right, and things are definitely going in the right direction for me, so, in moving forward, I want to look at the Cobbles, and the Ardennes classics (Belgium, Netherlands, and France, including those of Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, to name a few).
“That’s my forte, and where my riding capabilities lie, although we’re also well aware that next year (2022) depends heavily on the coronavirus situation – hopefully though, we’ll have a permanent plan in place by the end of this year.
“I’d love to be able to start a Grand Tour though, but, overall, we’ll be looking at as much as possible in what is a continually, fast-changing sport.”
Right now though, for James Shaw, it’s a little, well-earned rest time, recharging those batteries ahead of what promises to be an exciting year ahead, a year with EF Education Nippo.
(NB – personal thanks to James Shaw for his valued time, and thoughts, and his words of wisdom, and to Jim Bethell, for his ongoing words of support and guidance, particularly with the Shaw features).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @JamesthingyShaw joining EF Education-Nippo from the start of 2022.