The first half (or as near as it can be) for Nottingham’s pro cyclist, James Shaw, has been one of very mixed, emotions, feelings, that’s for sure.
Late last year it was announced that he’d be joining the EF Education Pro Cycling ahead of the 2022 season, something which he was, understandably, very excited about, his run with Ribble Weldtite affording him the chance to prove himself on the bigger stage, after some four years away.
Aboard his new teams’ new, Cannondale Road bicycle, Shaw eventually began the new season in February in the Tour des Alpes (finishing 9th in the GC, after three stages), then, in mid-March he would ride in the Coppi e Bartali in Italy, as well as Itzulia Basque Country.
However, it was quickly becoming a struggle for the Nottingham rider, his body succumbing to a series of illnesses and infections, and, with motivation levels being shot with incidents on the road, puncture anyone! It’s little wonder he hit a ‘roadblock.’
That roadblock meant however that, although he was excited to ride the Ardennes Classic, in Belgium, last month, he’d have to withdraw, stating the following –
“Sadly, due to yet another illness, I’ll miss the Ardennes Classic this year.
“Since my spell of covid I’ve been struggling to find form and strength, preventing me from performing to my max.
“It’s left me with a weak immune system meaning every race I leave with yet another illness preventing optimum recovery and training.
“Therefore, I’ve decided to take a step back to allow my body to recover.
“Clearly something hasn’t been right for weeks, for whatever reason, but now is the time to take that step back in order to take two steps forward in the future.
“Because of this situation, I don’t know when I’ll race again, but one things for sure, it can only get better from here.”
Cycling fans may have been a little shocked, taken aback by the ending to the statement from Shaw, early last month, however, his recuperation has gone reasonably well.
Within four weeks or so, the Notts cyclist was ready to make a go of it, targeting the Tour of Norway, which starts on 24 May, an event in which he came fifth in the GC last year, although he implored fans to not expect the same this time around.
Speaking ahead of the Tour, to which he hopes will lead further outings in June in the Criterium du Dauphine, the National TT Championships, and National Road Championships, James said: “As most of you might know, since I had covid in February I’ve been struggling with a run of illness through the spring.
“I’m putting this down to mostly weakened immunity, and long, covid-like symptoms.
“I’m also putting some of these illnesses down to my old self (he’ll be a tender, 26, next month); I’ve had a few weeks to find my feet and nail some really good training and this, of course, means I’m ready and prepped to pin a number back on.”
Now in Norway, ahead of the Tour, which can be viewed, all stages, on Eurosport, James will hope to enjoy the six, upcoming stages through the following – Bergen –Voss (24 May), Ulvik – Geilo (25 May), Gol – Stavsro/Gaustatoppen (26 May), Hovden – Kristiansand (27 May), Flekkefjord – Sandnes (28 May), and the Stavanger – Stavanger (29 May).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @EFprocycling things haven’t yet gone as Shaw had planned since joining EF.