A disheartened Pat Shaw contemplated bringing his cycling career to an end less than 12 months ago, after failing to break through to a major European team. After returning to Australia and joining Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans, Shaw has won the Tours of Toowoomba and Gippsland and has rediscovered the passion for racing he once feared losing.
Cyclingnews spoke to the 24-year-old after his Gippsland victory.
Cyclingnews: Pat you’ve had back-to-back stage race victories, you must be very pleased with your riding at the moment?
Pat Shaw: It’s a good feeling and most importantly it’s good that I could back it up after winning Tour of Toowoomba. Some people probably thought that the Tour of Toowoomba might have been a lucky win. It was a hard tour; I’d probably rate its terrain harder than what Gippsland ended up being this year.
Hats off to my teammates…especially Cameron Peterson. Every good general classification rider in any race has a good right-hand man and when you’ve got a guy next to you who can win the event on his own without a team probably, that makes it pretty easy for you to get good results.
CN: How were you feeling heading into the race? You mentioned that people might have thought Toowoomba was a one-off, were you feeling pressure to prove it wasn’t?
PS: I don’t really feel the pressure any more; I think it’s something I can put down to experience. I raced in Italy for two years where every race you entered there was no pressure because you knew the talent you were racing against was world class. So you didn’t put pressure on yourself, you just went out there and learned how to perform your best.
I haven’t felt any pressure in Australia all year, probably because I was going to retire and decided not to. Having come back I feel like I’m doing this for fun and enjoying it…it’s really all coming together.
I was sick for two weeks after Toowoomba which meant I only had one week to prepare for Gippsland. Still, I went there knowing that I still had the hardness in the legs and when I really opened up the throttle I was still feeling quiet good. I knew I could ride a decent race but I was surprised I had such a good week.
CN: I noticed you sent Joe Lewis a message afterwards thanking him for a close week of racing. Was it good having such a tight battle all the way through the tour?
PS: You get some guys that aren’t very enjoyable to race but Joe was really good to race against. We both have a great respect for one another and we enjoyed it. He had different tactics to mine, but it just shows two people can go at a race different ways and it still come down to the wire.
Not just Joe either, but the whole Drapac team. They were playing fair and we weren’t trying to rough each other up in any way. It was a good, clean, enjoyable fight and at the end of the tour everyone came out with good form and some results.
Pat Shaw and Joe Lewis talk on the start line at the Tour of Gippsland.
CN: You mentioned that you’d considered retirement at the end of 2009. Given the results you’ve had, are you glad you decided to push on for another season?
PS: Certainly. The main reason I wanted to retire was because of the mental stress I was taking on. I knew I had some superb form during the years that I raced in Italy and I really had had a lot of bad luck over a three or four year period. I had some heavy crashes and that doesn’t help either, plus I had a few offers from teams fall through. They may have been soft offers, but I was taking them pretty seriously.
That all knocks you around mentally. I felt it was time to try and leave the sport before I hated it, because I didn’t want to hate the sport I’d loved all my life.
CN: Given the success you have had, have you changed your goals for the remainder of 2010?
PS: When I spoke to Pat Jonker at the start of the season I sent him my goals and Tour of Gippsland wasn’t one of them, neither was Toowoomba, but they’re both beautiful races and I’m very honoured to have won them.
My plan has changed slightly but only in that now I’ll go to races and people will be looking to me to get results but I’m not putting any more pressure on myself. I’ll go to race, try 100 percent and what comes will come.
CN: What are you hoping for in 2011? Are you aiming to join Fly V Australia, return to Europe or stay where you are?
PS: I really enjoy being at Virgin Blue and with the guys in this team, but I’m sure guys from the team will move on. We’ve got a lot of good, young riders in the squad.
I’ll just be happy if my cycling continues to move forward. At the moment I’m still concentrating on 2010, there’s still a long time to go, we’ve only really just started. As far as 2011 goes as long as my cycling continues to move forward, hopefully it will put me in a position where I don’t have to work next year as well, then I’ll be very happy.
Pat Shaw celebrates his overall victory at the Tour of Gippsland as the other riders contest the final sprint.