Feature – Future Star James Shaw


Hot prospect James Shaw will be mixing it with the pros when he takes part in the Tour Series at Canary Wharf in London

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Feature – Future Star James Shaw

By Colston Crawford, Derby Telegraph | Photo: Joeri

It’s another step on the way for the former Heanor Clarion youngster who, at 18, is taking the junior ranks by storm. Shaw leads the British Junior Road Race series after starting the season with three successive wins and he has just further enhanced a rapidly-growing reputation with two wins and a second place in a busy week’s racing in Belgium.


His victory in the annual Omloop het Nieuwsblad race, one of the biggest on the Belgian calendar, was his second in a Belgian junior classic, following his early season success in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne event.

Shaw has been told only three riders have ever done the double in these events and he is the first British rider to win the second one, in which a mammoth field of 194 set out. He travelled to Belgium with five other riders by invitation from team manager John Barclay to represent the South East team for the race.

“The course was pan-flat and there was no wind, so we knew it would be fast – and it was,” he said. “I didn’t expect there to be any break. I expected it to go down to a bunch kick and I knew that would be in my favour.”

That was indeed how it panned out and Shaw made his move towards the end of the race on one of the cobbled sections, in a crosswind – the sort of situation in which other riders are just hanging on.

“I got away with two others and it was cat and mouse between us then until I saw an opportunity, got my head down, went for it and found I could hold it to the line,” he said.

Shaw stayed in Belgium to take on two kermesses at the weekend, back in the colours of his regular team, Haribo Beacon. Kermesses are locally-organised, fiercely contested races, usually several laps of a circuit of between six and 11 kilometres, so they are big spectator events in a cycling-mad country.

“They all start at 3pm and they’re always tough, with good riders and fields of about 70-80,” said Shaw. “They’ll last about two hours and the first hour is full-on, with everyone trying to get a break.”

Again, waiting for a crosswind, Shaw made his break in the first race with two others with 35km to go and they got clear. “I worked together with the them but I could see the other boys were beginning to tire,” he said.

“With four kilometres to go, I tried to get away but it took me two or three goes. They weren’t going to make it easy for me, so full respect to them.”

They could not stop him, however, and win number two was in the bag. What would have been an exceptional third win in the week evaded Shaw by only a couple of inches the next day.

“I was a marked man by now and it was a very cautious race, until a lone rider made a break with six kilometres to go and got 35 seconds ahead,” he said. “There were only three kilometres to go when a chase started and I got on the back of them. We were reeling him in and I went for a flat-out sprint with 500 metres to go.”

“I nearly got him. He held on by about two inches on the line – if I’d gone one metre sooner, I’d have had him!”

“Three wins would have been great but it would have been a big ask and I’m more than happy with how the week went – and with how the season has gone so far. To have won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Omloop het Nieuwsblad in the same year is amazing.”

Back home, it seems no-one has a bad word for the popular Shaw, who appears remarkably level-headed. He likes mod fashions and music and, inevitably, the words “next Bradley Wiggins” have been uttered. He is unfazed.

“I don’t imagine that Bradley Wiggins (a junior world champion on the track) knew, when he was my age, what he was going to achieve or where it would take him,” said Shaw. “I don’t know where the sport will take me and that’s one of the things I love about it. I mean, there’s a plan and I have my dreams but you never know how it’s going to go.”

“I’ve got so many steps to take and it isn’t going to happen overnight. But this is what I love. I live for the bike, it’s part of me and it’s been like this since I was about six.”

“I don’t get up and wonder ‘do I go out on the bike or not?’ You just do it. I knew I’d done the work during the winter but there’s so much more to it. I’m constantly learning – you never stop.”

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