James Shaw
James Shaw.

The last time we spoke to young Englishman, James Shaw he’d just won the junior edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Recently he’s followed in the footsteps of Adam Blythe and Dan McLay by signing for Lotto’s U23 ‘feeder’ team.

High time we had another word with him, we thought to ourselves…

Congratulations, James – how did the Lotto ride come about?

“The great John Barclay, who has been taking British riders out to race in Belgium for decades, arranged for me to meet with the team management at Lotto Soudal (Belisol).

The meeting was arranged for a weekend that I was out racing and we met in the hotel on a Saturday evening; we spoke at length about aims and ambitions and after that they offered me a contract for the 2015 season.

“They had previously had Adam Blythe and Dan McLay on their roster, which although nice to follow in the footsteps of such class riders does add a little to the pressure.

“Without doubt though, without John Barclay it would never have happened as the foreign races that I did as part of his team and the results I got for him have to be a massive part in getting signed.”

We last spoke to you after your Kuurne win – tell us about your palmares since then, please.

“I managed another good win at Junior Het Nieuwsblad.

“Got a second in the King of the Mountains at the Peace Race Nations Cup for GB and overall fifth on GC at the Keizer Tour.

“Back home I won the Junior Cicle Classic, the Tour of the Mendips and Cadence.

“In senior races I was sixth at the Milk Race around the streets of Nottingham and fourth on GC at the two-day Holme Valley Tour.”

When’s the first team ‘get together’?

“We got together at the HQ of Soudal, the big new title sponsor, in October. It was basically just to meet up and sort kit sizes out. etc.

“It was pretty big though as all the guys in the senior team were there, together with all the management.

“It was good to meet some of the other new guys although I knew them a little through racing over the season.”

When do you get the goodies; new kit, new bike – what’s the bike and groupset?

“Think we are looking for after Christmas.

“Bikes will be Ridleys with Campag groupsets; it doesn’t come much better than that!”

Is there a formal team launch – where and when?

“I definitely think there will be but I’ve not got a date yet. We go away on a two week training camp in February so it might be after that.”

Tell us about your programme – will you be riding Nations Cups for GB?

“I’d love to think so, Tao and Dan have had some good GB rides this season so it’s nice to know that if you go and race abroad you are not forgotten.

“Obviously it’s down to selection and that will be down to performance.”

James Shaw
James centre stage at the Junior Het Nieuwsblad. Photo©REM

How long did your winter break last – what do you get up to that you wouldn’t during the season?

“It was about three weeks immediately after the World Championships, after that I was doing some steady riding just to keep the legs moving. I’m now fully back into my heavy winter block.

“What did I do that I wouldn’t have normally done? Not worry quite so much about my diet, generally chilled, went to the Out the Saddle Dinner organised by Dean and Russ [Downing].

“I suppose I just did normal things without thinking too much about training and racing.”

Has the team given you direction on training?

“They allow me to determine my own training which for me is working with my coach Chris McNamara and Trainsharp.

“Chris will work me out a training regime that fits around my racing calendar.

“Working with Trainsharp has made a massive difference I think what Chris has taught me is that less is often more as I think that left on my own I would have a tendency to over train.

“I’m now learning that it isn’t all about quantity of training it’s about quality and this is why a professional coach is so important.”

Who’ll be your DS?

“It’s Kurt Van de Wouwer who is the guy who signed me.”

Have you started learning Vlaams, yet?

“I want to learn the language; I certainly don’t want everybody to speak to me in English just because they can.

“Embracing the whole racing abroad experience is part of everything I want; it’s more than just about the racing – it’s about the life.

“Having said that I am using Google translate rather a lot at the minute to answer e-mails!”

Are you looking forward to all those hellingen and kasseien in 2015?

“I’ve always loved Belgium roads and racing, I think having started in cyclo-cross it sets you up for the tough conditions, cobbles are great; just hit them at speed and try and stay rubber side down.”

Where will ‘home’ be?

“Home will be Herselt in the east of Belgium about 15km away from the Lotto Soudal service course.”

James Shaw
James and his prize donkey at Kuurne.

What was the best moment of 2014 for you?

“The World Championship was massive and although a top ten would have been nice, 16th was a solid result that I was happy with.

“Just the thought of being there again in future is all the motivation you need to train on an early cold Sunday morning whilst everybody else is in bed in the warm.”

Any disappointments?

“I got ill after the National Champs and missed a few good races, thankfully I got over it although it took a few weeks, I just got back for the Tour of Wales and the Worlds.”

What are you looking for from 2015?

“I’m not underestimating how hard it is going to be, I just want to prove my commitment, dedication and to try and build foundations for a second and third season as an U23.

“At every new stage you start as the smallest fish in the pond you just need to try and grow into that big fish…”