Tour of Britain Chat: James Shaw


Stagiaire with Lotto Soudal, James Shaw got the call a few days ago to ride the Tour of Britain – we spoke to him this morning

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Tour of Britain Chat: James Shaw

Not sure I have ever met a more professional young man than James Shaw but one thing I am certain of, he does his team and the sport proud on and off the bike.


The quietly spoken Lotto Soudal rider was told two days ago he was riding his National Tour and after a trio of UCI 1.1 races for the pro team, the Tour of Britain will be his first HC race. It was quite surreal to be there when he met André Greipel for the first time.

James had arrived at midnight after a long travel day and as he came down to have our chat, I mentioned André was in the room behind us having breakfast. Being the pro he is, James excused himself and went to say hello to Andre before returning for the interview.

James then explained how it was his first race at this level and it was a bit of a shock when he got the call. “I only found out two days ago as originally I was a reserve for this race and then last minute, a few riders swapped over so for me to get the call to do the home tour makes it a big week”.


“ It will be the first time I have raced with Andre and the first time I’ve met him! What do you say to a guy who’s won in the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées when you’re a 20 year old? It is a bit over whelming…, crazy.”

James will be a ‘worker’ for the team, a domestique but is looking forward to experiencing what it is like racing on home roads. “It will be good to see people I know on the road side like my mum and dad. Being a home race brings with it some extra motivation. It’s an extra boost to know friends and family will have travelled to the Tour to see me race so you want you do well”.

James and I then spoke about what it’s like being part of a Belgian team, one he says he feels at home with after two seasons out there and one too where English is like the second language, a common one for the different nationalities to speak in when they come together for a race.


It’s all a long way from where he was born in Nottingham and growing up in Heanor “That was my first club, Heanor Clarion, when I joined as a six or seven year old and used to go along to the Wednesday night cyclo-cross session and ride around Shipley park and fall off and get back on and fall off”.

His cycling career really took off as a Junior with wins in Belgian classics and so it was no surprise he was signed to ride for the Under 23 Lotto Soudal team just like Adam Blythe and Dan Mclay. But James is still very much in a learning phase and the Tour of Britain is sure to be another classroom lesson he won’t forget in a hurry.


Asked what stage races he has done to prepare for the National Tour, James says “I did the Tour of Normandy (France) which is probably the closest I have done to a Tour like this, seven stages in seven days and a very hard Tour where you learn how to deal with the fatigue and what your body can do”.

“Jon (at Trainsharp) is very helpful with tips and advice on what to do when this muscle is aching or how to stretch and how to de-fatigue the mind even”.

The role James knows he’s probably going to be assigned is one of being on the front of the peloton chasing breaks. “So far, for the past three races, my role has been sitting on the front! I was talking to another stagiaire and saying how it’s a privilege to be a stagiaire but not something you look forward to because you know it’s going to hurt being on the front for a lot of kilometres.”

“It’s the ladder isn’t it, everyone starts doing this or getting bottles and you work your way up the ladder”.


“It was a massive confidence boost to get the call to be stagiaire for Lotto Soudal though. A little surprised but great to have the chance which I’ll grab with both hands and make the most of. You look at Adam (Blythe) and Dan (McLay) and can see it has been done and you look at the amount of Belgium riders who come through this team as well. It’s proved it can be done so you have confidence in the system and know it’s down to you”.

Going from the Under 23 team to being a stagiaire though is daunting for any new rider, never mind a 20 year old. Everyone in the team knows each other except James who’s the new kid on the block with the pros.


“It’s scary, like a first day at school, a foreign school where nobody is going to speak to you in English so you have to make an effort in Dutch first and say English is my first language . It is daunting but after eight days it will be the norm again as the guys have been very welcoming and friendly”.

Finally, we talked about how James relies on some experienced people to help him continue his path to being a professional. Trainsharp coaching who have the likes of Ian Bibby and Mark McNally on their books.

For any youngster having to deal with lots of new challenges early on in their career, getting the most out of their body is key on and off the bike and for that, James is grateful to have Trainsharp in his corner.

“My training is a massive part of my programme during a season. It’s a very detailed science and that is the great thing about Jon and the guys there who can look after me because it could go horribly wrong for me if I did too little or too much without their guidance.”


“Their help influences my performances and I’m told they have a big James Shaw database on their computer down there LoL! My training changes as my races do and as my body is changing as well. The training from the guys at Trainsharp is tailor fitted to me which is a great help.”

Having these coaches to help him get through this race will be a great help too as I’ve not heard anyone say it’s an easy race to finish. Quite the opposite and we wish James a lot of luck and remember if he comes in 20 minutes down, he’s probably spent most of the race on the front before ‘bailing’ and saving himself for more punishment the next day. Such is life for youngsters learning their craft in the hardest of sports.

Try and enjoy it James and Good Luck!




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