James Shaw’s search for a contract next season is finally over. He has signed a deal with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling for the 2021 season, with the team declaring they are “looking to shape a calendar to enable him to showcase his talents in these events.” James joins the team from Danish ProTeam team Riwal Securitas after a tortuous contract search.
In many ways, history repeated itself for James this year after a not-too-dissimilar contract scramble in 2018-19. Back then, he was still reeling from the news that Lotto Soudal had decided not to renew his contract, despite quietly impressing with two seasons of reliable, diligent work as a domestique in some of the world’s top races before finishing 10th in the U23 world road race championships. As the year was drawing to a close, he told us that time was running out to save his barely-begun cycling career.
Eventually, he joined the newly created UK Continental team SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, hoping to earn the results that would enable him to return to the pro ranks. A successful season followed, with wins in the National Road Series and 5th overall in the Tour de Yorkshire, helping him to secure a one-year contract with the Riwal.
This year has been a tough one for James, not just because of the pandemic-hit calendar, but also because his team hit financial hard times, meaning the riders had to forego wages in order for the team to continue racing. Despite the interruptions, he put together a solid year, including selection for the worlds road race.
With Riwal’s future uncertain, James – acting as his own agent – embarked on a search for a new team. With the search not going well, James said in an Instagram post at the beginning of October that he may even have raced the last race of his career.
When we interviewed him for our podcast shortly afterwards, he spoke of his determination to remain in the sport. He told us, “I’ve not committed the last twenty years of my life to bike riding, I’ve not gone out in the pissing rain doing seven-hour rides, I’ve not creamed myself in every race as hard as I can and spent time away from home and family, missed birthdays and everything, just to knock it on the head now.”
With Riwal confirming at the weekend that they wouldn’t be able to continue as a ProTeam, James decided to take up Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling’s contract offer. The team are busy putting together a solid UCI race programme, so James will hope he can once again use a year with a domestic team as a springboard back into the ProTeam, or even WorldTour, ranks.
James said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the last minute opportunity from the team. I fully intend on making the most of it in 2020. I know a lot of the team at Ribble Weldtite and with their support I’m looking forward to getting out there and winning bike races again to help me return to the top of the sport.”
Listen to our recent podcast interview with James here.
Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. UCI 2018 Road World Championships – Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria – U23 Men’s Road Race – James Shaw of Great Britain.