Monday, September 20, 2021
HomeInterviewsJames Shaw - Talking Life under Covid-19

James Shaw – Talking Life under Covid-19

No races at the moment and the World of cycle sport has stopped. What do the riders think? We tracked down James Shaw of the Danish Riwal Readynez team to get his lowdown on the lockdown.


Coronavirus, or Covid-19 is the only topic in town right now and if, like me, you can’t imagine life without cycling then it has much to answer for; not to mention the drastic effect it’s having on people across the world. We caught up with professional James Shaw who rides for the Danish Pro Conti Riwal Readynez Cycling Team to ask about how it’s affecting him as a pro with his season just getting into its stride then having the rug pulled from under him.

Although only 23 years-of-age Shaw is an experienced rider who spent two years on the World Tour with Lotto Soudal then a season back in the UK with SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling before ‘bouncing back up’ to Pro Conti. with Riwal Readynez. We spoke to him at his new home in Derbyshire, England’s scenic Peak District.

James Shaw
James Shaw takes on fluid in Arabia at the start of the season.

You had a nice start to season, James with top 20 in the in the UCi 2.1 Saudi Tour.

“Yes, after that I had the Ruta Del Sol and then to France for the Uci 1.Pro races the Faun-Ardeche Classic and Royal Bernard Drome Classic.

“I caught a bit of illness on the plane to Saudi but soldiered on and whilst I wasn’t at my best I was reasonably happy with my result. And we had Andreas Kron from the team in the top 10 overall.”

And how’s Riwal Readynez working out?

“Mega – it’s exceeded my expectations.

“In the past I’ve been on teams where there was money but the organisation was lacking – here it’s the opposite, the budget may not be the biggest but the organisation is excellent.

“And I’ve forged good links with my team mates and management so I’m very happy with things.”

James Shaw
Photo©Karine Junique

How was the step back up from UK domestic racing to jousting with the likes of Bahrain and UAE in Saudi?

“It was good to be back and competitive every day – stuck in at the front of the race.

“It’s a good place to start racing and if you’ve been starved of racing for a few months it’s sometimes hard to find that last bit of speed – but like I said, I was happy with how it went.

Ardeche and Drome are tough races; the French ‘Opening Weekend.’

“They were new races to me but I must say that they were good races if very cold and wet! I wasn’t going so well in the Ardeche but had better legs the next day – no massive results but I gave it my best.

“I preferred starting there rather than in Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne; I’ve ridden up there in Flanders in the past but I’m not crazy about those cobbles. It’s not as if the French field is second string, Nibali, Bardet, Barguil, Alaphilippe were all there – you could say it’s a climbers ‘Opening Weekend.’ ‘Horse for courses’ as we say.”

James Shaw
James Shaw.

When did you get first inklings of the ‘Corona crisis?’

“The first signs came when some of the early season races in China were cancelled. But I guess it was on Monday March 9th that it got really serious with the team locked down in Denmark due to Danish Government policy.

“The team had no option but to comply and I know that a similar situation applies in Spain and I think France is going to follow suit. Luckily I was home in England before it all ‘hit the fan.’

“I was actually meant to go to Spain training, but think I made the right decision given the situation there where you’re not even allowed to go out on the bike on pain of the police stopping you.

“There’s actually a ban on riding bikes and fines can range from €500-€3000 for, “unnecessarily being outdoors.” My ‘other half’ is actually stranded out there just now and we’re trying to figure how to get her home.”

What’s the brief from the team?

“Stay healthy, maintain base form, don’t get fat and if racing starts up next month, be ready. But to be honest we’re all a little lost because no one really knows what’s going to happen.

“I’m having a few days rest then I’m going to get back into training seriously.

“But to be realistic, it’s pretty much inevitable that most of us will contract the virus and I’d rather catch it now and get it over with rather in a couple of months when we’re racing again and I have good form.”

James Shaw
James Shaw at the Ruta Del Sol.

Remind us who coaches you and what’s their advice?

“I’m trained by TrainSharp, John Sharples’ organisation.

“I was supposed to be racing in Limburg after I came back from Spain but the methodology now is not to lose form but not to get into speed work until the time comes when we know what’s happening.”

What’s the situation where you are?

“I’m in Derbyshire, the Peak District and there’s been a bit of a panic buying in the shops; they’re sold out of Paracetamol, toilet rolls and hand sanitizer – it’s a bit crazy.

“So far there have been two fatalities in our area; they’re not testing anyone and the advice now is to self-isolate but schools and shops are still open.”

James Shaw
James Shaw and his teammates in Spain.

Are you keeping in touch with your team mates?

“We’ve set up a group chat on social media and we’re encouraging each other to keep our heads screwed on.

“It’s easy if you’re training for and motivated to ride the Classics and that’s taken away from you for your head to go down and start eating French fries.

“You can start thinking, ‘what’s the point?’ And that has to be avoided so we keep each other’s heads up.

“It’s time to do stuff that perhaps you wouldn’t if you had a busy training and race programme – perhaps a bike fit or get yourself into the wind tunnel to work on your time trial position.

“All of that said, it’s hard not to feel a little lost.”

Does the time lay heavy with you?

“I’ve just bought a new house which is a bit of a wreck, the plan was to start work on it in the off season but I can get on with that now.”

James Shaw
James Shaw in action at the Faun-Ardeche Classic. Photo©Karine Junique

What about the financial aspect as it affects you?

“As far as I am aware the team will continue all per our contracts – the Danes are very open and up front about such things, but I think it’ll have a very negative effect upon the UK scene where sponsors are on the brink and this could well push them over the edge – getting no return for their investment.

“Personally I’m going to work hard at pushing my social media, if there’s no racing all year I don’t want to get forgotten about!”

Faun-Ardeche Classic
James Shaw in the 2020 Riwal Readynez team.

With thanks to James for his time and insights – troubling times for all of us. More info on the Riwal Readynez team.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Chris Latham – World Cup Omnium Silver Medallist

If there’s one negative you can fire at British Cycling’s hugely successful track cycling campaign over the last decade it’s that perhaps the young talent hasn’t come through as fast we’d expected but this season team pursuiter and now World Cup omnium silver medallist, Chris Latham has shone. VeloVeritas caught up with after his return from New Zealand...

Matt Gibson – Snapped up by Burgos-BH for 2019

The last time we spoke to 22 year-old Englishman Matt Gibson he’d just won the European u23 Scratch Championship. Since then he’s gravitated away from the track spending the last two seasons with John Herety’s JLT-Condor team.

Dave Clarke – Drummond Trophy 2014 Winner

VeloVeritas didn’t make it to the recent Drummond Trophy, for which we offer our apologies to Mr, Norrie Drummond, one of the sport’s staunchest supporters and a former competitor himself – you can read of his Flemish exploits ‘back in the day'. It would be rude of us to let ‘The Drummond’ pass without a mention, so with the aid of ex-Cervelo and Raleigh professional, not to mention friend of VV, Dan Fleeman we got in touch with the 2014 Drummond’s winner – English professional Dave Clarke (KTM Cycling Team).

Mark McNally – Retired, After Eight Years with Belgian Teams

We’ve opened the ‘whatever happened to’ file again and this time it’s Liverpudlian gone Flatlands native, Mark McNally. It was VeloVeritas mentor and expert on all things Belgian, Viktor who suggested that we contact the man originally from Liverpool but who has now made Belgium his home.

The VV View: Wout Poels’ Monument Win, Disc Brakes, Wiggins, and more…

Buoyed by the great reception our piece on Shane Sutton received - Darryl Webster branded it; "utter garbage" - we thought we'd fire off a few more opinions on what's been happening recently in our 'King of Sports.' Sky finally got their Monument, not from a 'Brit' though; Lowlands hard man Wout Poels was first into that most unglamorous of Monument finishes - the retail park in Ans.

Charlie Quarterman – National ’10’ Champion and a Two Year Contract with Trek Segafredo

It’s been a big week for 20 year-old Oxford man, Charlie Quarterman; he won the British 10 mile time trial championship, promoted under Cycling Time Trial rules and just days later it was announced he has a stagiaire ride with Trek Segafredo for the remainder of 2019 running through into a two year contract.

At Random

Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 16, Pinzolo – Aprica; the Mortirolo!

You forget how gruesome the climbs are here in Italy; I'd never been over the Mortirolo before but it was an eye opener - 11.9 kilometres (that's more than seven miles) with an AVERAGE gradient of just under 12% and a maximum of 18%. Lance reckoned it was the toughest climb he ever raced and 'Bert' was on 34 x 30; 'nuff said !' On most of the big climbs there are sections where it eases a little; not on this swine, it's unrelenting and unforgiving - ask Fabio Aru ...

Preview – The Scottish National 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2009

Organiser Isobel Smith is certainly hoping the recent run of fine weather continues for her race on Sunday morning, the Scottish National 25 Mile Time Trial Championship 2009.

Le Tour de France 2015 – Stage 5; Limoges – Le Lioran. Van Avermaet’s Joy and Jaune

Man of the Flatlands, the multi talented Greg Van Avermaet (BMC & Belgium) pulls off a splendid ‘double’ on the first day of climbing; solo in the grand manner he wins the stage and takes the yellow jersey – and by the considerable margin of 05:11 on Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx & France) who remains second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar & Spain) who’s in third spot.

CTT Team Time Trial Championships 2021

Defending champions and race favourites, Ribble Weldtite with strong men Dan Bigham, James Shaw and Simon Wilson took the CTT Team Time Trial Championships title on a cool, damp but still morning at Irvine on the west coast of Scotland, with a time of 54:01, averaging 55.9 kph to best their own ‘B’ team by 2:32, the line up there being Zeb Kyffin, Joe Wilson and Matt Gibson.

European Road Race Championships 2018, Roadside

In the language of the Gael, Glasgow is, ‘The Dear Green Place,’ on Sunday for the European Road race Championship 2018 it was certainly ‘green’ – we’re not do sure about ‘dear’ though; it was grey, miserable, and wet – just plain DREICH. But we still love the city – last time we went west for the Commonwealth Games Road Race, this time we decided to get soaked in the East End.

Sam Watson – Seventh in the GP della Liberazione

British rider Sam Watson finished in seventh spot behind Michele Gazzoli of the Colpack Ballan squad in the GP della Liberazione - few top u23 races in Italy don’t have a Colpack man on the podium. Sam would be a good lad to catch up with, we thought to ourselves…