EF Education-NIPPO is pleased to announce the signing of James Shaw to our 2022 roster. The British rider is another powerful addition to the team’s Classics lineup.
Shaw wastes no time when you ask him about his focus for next season. “The Ardennes classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and things like that are for me. I think the short, sharp climbs in the late spring in the Ardennes.”
With a spate of results on the climbing stages in the 2021 editions of the Tour of Slovenia and the Tour of Norway, coupled with a strong showing in the Classics as an Under-23 rider, it’s evident Shaw knows his strength.
In addition to being a Classics specialist, Shaw appreciates the legacy of the storied races he so admires. “Those races really bring a great level of heritage and history and a past. They have a certain weight within the cycling culture so that appeals to me as well. It gives me extra motivation.”
It’s clear that cycling history is important to Shaw and he’s keen to be part of it. “Obviously, with the heritage of EF Education-NIPPO and the image that they have in cycling, it’s quite a proud moment to be able to join such a historic team. EF is a landmark in cycling and I’m pleased to be part of a great future in the sport and to contribute to a stronger foundation for the next generation to come along.”
Shaw considers himself a dedicated team player. “I really love seeing other people achieve and knowing that you’ve helped other people and being a part of the bigger picture as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win myself but to be part of an environment and to be really looking after the people as well, it’s something I really pride myself on.”
While Shaw admires the team’s focus on teamwork, he also is excited about the team’s approach to the cycling calendar. “The whole alternative aspect of cycling with the alternative race program. It seems like a really appealing concept and it’s something I felt represented myself as well. I’m someone who doesn’t always take the easiest route and go with the flow, but takes the alternative route and likes the adventure side of life as well. I’m a little bit different,” he says unabashedly.
In fact, his path to EF has been a little bit different. Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters explains. “James went into the WorldTour probably a little too young and just got lost in the mix and didn’t know how to fit in, didn’t adapt to their management style. And that’s really hard. Basically he had to restart his career from scratch at 22 years old. Luckily he’s a really smart and resourceful kid who just figured out how to bootstrap his way back into professional cycling and he’s shown since then, on his own two feet, that he has the ability to be competitive with the best in the WorldTour so this is his born again moment as a WorldTour rider. He’s going to go back though his new pro year all over again, only this time as a 25-year-old as opposed to as a 19-year-old.”
To say that Shaw is well acquainted with the ups and downs of being a cyclist is an understatement. “Bike racing has given me everything but it’s also taken everything away from me at the same time.” He pauses. “It’s given me a perspective on life really. I went professional in 2019 but the team sadly didn’t retain their professional status due to finances caused by the pandemic, so in 2021 I dropped down to continental level. It made me realize that maybe the world’s not always fair and you have to take opportunities when you can and enjoy them when they do come around because you can’t take them for granted.”
The tenacity that Shaw has shown over the past few years, says Vaughters, both as a rider and as a human, has made Shaw stand out. “Ninety-five percent of people in his position would have given up,” Vaughters says. “I have a high degree of respect for him that he didn’t give up, that he figured out a way to claw his way back in. He’s very clever that way, very resourceful.”
Vaughters sees obvious talent as well as unknown depths in Shaw. “I think he will immediately be good in hilly stage races, hilly Classics,” Vaughters says. “I think he’s a versatile rider, he’s a tactically astute rider, his time trialing is really good. As far as where he goes, I don’t really know because it’s a different project in that you’re helping a guy reboot his career. Where he ends up, hell, he could be one of the best in the world, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows where his limits lie yet.”
“I’m grateful to the guys and the management who’ve put their faith in me to offer me this opportunity,” Shaw says. “I’m very grateful for that. I want to capitalize on that as much as possible and see what the next chapter is and see if it writes itself the way I hope it does.”
We’re excited for this next chapter, too, James.