Talented junior James Shaw, currently racing with Haribo-Beacon, is heading to Belgium in 2015 to ride for the Lotto-Belisol under-23 team in his first senior year

Haribo-Beacon rider James Shaw, who has only just turned 18, will be riding with the highly-rated Lotto-Belisol under-23 team in 2015. Shaw, the winner this year of the junior versions of both Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, has had a strong year both at home and abroad. We asked him how his ‘transfer’ to Belgium it came about.

“It was like applying for a normal job really. I put my CV together with a bit of help from John Barclay and John very kindly sent it out to them,” explained Shaw.

“The team got back in touch with me and when we were racing the Ronde van Kontich four-day stage race in Belgium (where Shaw finished 9th overall at 34 seconds – Ed.) the team manager came to the hostel we were staying at. We had a chat, a sort of an informal job interview, I suppose, though I didn’t need a shirt or suit!”

“The plan is to move over to Belgium for the racing season, but do my training in winter over here, maybe try and get out to Spain for a few weeks through the winter and then go to Belgium and live out there for the season. The team will have a training camp in February but I think I’ll try to go out to Spain or Mallorca with a few other UK riders in December for a couple of weeks – I did that last year with Dan McLay.”

In spite of an impressive race CV that would stand up in any country, Shaw was drawn to Belgium above all other European options.

“I’ve raced in Belgium for three seasons, Belgium is almost like a second home to me really, I really enjoy it out there and I know it quite well. I’ve also had my best results there. I didn’t think about looking elsewhere, partly because it’s really early in the season to be thinking about looking for a place for next year. But when the offer came up, well, it really is one of those offers that you can’t refuse.”

Apart from being the development squad of a WorldTour team, Shaw was taken by the Lotto-Belisol race programme.

“What really sold it was their race calendar. I looked at what the team had done this year and thought ‘Oh wow’ and the plans they have for next year are really positive, it’s an unbelievable programme.”

Shaw contacted Dan McLay, who has raced with the team, for a bit of advice and feedback.

“I know Dan fairly well, he’s a fellow East Midlander, I actually went to Spain in winter with him last year just before Christmas. But I asked Dan about living in Belgium more than anything else, trying to understand the nuts and bolts of living there. It’s not just finding a house or finding a house in the right place or whether you need a car or how much that would cost to run, stuff like that.”

In the meantime, the junior Tour of Wales (August 23-25) is the next target for Shaw, though he had a couple of weeks off the bike with a viral infection after the national road race where his team mate Tom Bayliss finished third behind champion Tristan Robbins (BH Solidor) and Nathan Draper (RST Racing Team).

“In the last couple of weeks I’ve been holding back a bit, so either I’ll be dead fresh or a bit short, we’ll see!” And before he packs his bags for Belgium, Shaw is still hoping to get selection for the junior world road race championships in Ponferrada on a course that would appear to suit him. A strong showing in the World’s road race would be a great end to Shaw’s impressive final season as a junior.