Lotto-Soudal's new signing James Shaw is to ride his first WorldTour race at the Tour Down Under next week.
The 20-year-old was promoted from Lotto-Soudal’s U23 squad in the off-season after a successful spell as a stagiaire, where he impressed the WorldTour team’s staff enough to earn himself a first professional contract.
Shaw has been selected for the first WorldTour race of the season and though he is nervous about turning pedals for the first time in a race as a pro, the Derbyshire rider is relishing the opportunity.
“Although I’m really nervous for my first WorldTour race, I hope to come out as a stronger and better bike rider,” he said.
“I’m lucky to have a wealth of experience around me, with riders like Lars Bak and Thomas De Gendt who are more than willing to share their knowledge.
“I’m starting a new and big adventure, but the fact that I’m surrounded by such a nice team will dampen the shock.”
Previously a Dave Rayner Fund rider, Shaw and his teammates have been riding sections of the Tour Down Under course while based in Adelaide.
The essential guide to the 2017 Tour Down Under
“We did a recon of a few of next week’s courses. We rode the last fifty kilometres of the second stage and went to see the start and finish of stage four,” he said. “Those recons made me even more excited to race next week.”
Shaw took four weeks off the bike after coming back from racing at the Road World Championships in Qatar in the U23 road race, before returning to Belgium to start his winter training.
This is his first time in Australia and, with snow storms across Europe, the weather and wildlife has been a welcome change to his usual surroundings.
“As far as the weather is concerned it’s a huge difference with the cold in Europe at the moment,” he added.
“It’s a weird feeling having high temperatures in January; that doesn’t seem right. But it’s not too hot yet. Thursday was the first time the temperature rose above thirty degrees.
“During our spare time we already had some time to look around here in Adelaide. I bought a postcard to send home to my parents. Adelaide is a beautiful city and not too crowded. You are close to the beach and hills. It’s wonderful to enjoy a coffee under the sun during our training rides.
“During one of our trainings Rafael Valls pointed out a koala who was chilling in a tree. It was exciting to see such an animal in its natural habitat.”