'They're different gravy': James Shaw on his Tour de France battle against Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard

The EF Education-EasyPost rider thought he had an opportunity to win a mountain stage in his maiden Tour de France

James Shaw
(Image credit: Getty)

When James Shaw saw both Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard sprinting past him at the top of the Grand Colombier on stage 13 of the Tour de France, quashing his chances of finishing second, he only had one thought.

“F**kers. Just f**kers!” the EF Education-EasyPost rider laughed. “They came past at a fair rate of knots and I was just swerving from side to side all over the road. They came past in a lot better condition.”

Shaw had been part of the day’s breakaway that lasted until the finish, despite Pogačar’s UAE-Team Emirates controlling the peloton in an attempt to set up the Slovenian for victory.

In the end, Ineos Grenadiers’ Michal Kwiatkowski was the victor, but for Shaw it was another reminder to himself that he has well and truly earned his spot among the elite in what is his maiden Tour; on stage six in the Pyrenees, he finished fifth after similarly infiltrating the breakaway.

“It’s pretty cool to know actually that we started the climb with around four minutes [advantage to the main group]. If they go full gas and us too, it’s good to know how much you lose. If it’s four minutes on a climb like that, it’s pretty good, isn’t it. For me it’s an interesting thought. But they [Pogačar and Vingegaard] are born different. They are different gravy.”

Shaw was proud of his performance on the race’s first day in the Alps. “It’s bittersweet but I am super happy with the performance I put in,” the 27-year-old said.

“It would have been nice to be able to go away, but Kwiatkowski stayed away. He went pretty quick. With three kilometres to go I started to press on to see how close I could get, to see if I could get him in sight. At 50m to go the leaders caught me and a little bit of me died inside when they came past.”

Although disappointed that he didn’t win - something he believed was possible as they turned onto the finishing climb - the affable Brit could only see positives.

“To go out and train all winter in the cold, you have to believe in yourself,” he said. “I always had a bit of faith in myself, a bit of belief that I could come to the Tour de France and battle for stage wins. I’ve proven that I’ve got the ability to do that and put in the graft to do it as well. 

“It’ll get there. One day the stars will align and it’ll come together. I’ll keep cracking away.”

Asked when he will next try to get in the break, he pointed to his teammates Esteban Chaves and Rigo Urán probably being the preferences over the weekend. “But there’s stage 17 and stage 20 as well,” he said. “There’s plenty more bullets in the chamber.”

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.