Pat Shaw is regarded as the experienced team captain on his AvantiIsowhey team yet somewhat ironically the 29-year-old is making his WorldTour debut this week with the UniSA-Australia team at the Tour Down Under.
In what is the University of South Australia’s silver anniversary and the wildcard team’s 16th appearance at the race, there is certain level of expectation of performances for UniSA-Australia at the race. Sean Lake took up the challenge on stage 1, winning the first KOM jersey of the race but on stage 4 it was Shaw’s team to stick his nose in the wind in the breakaway.
Speaking with Cyclingnews at the start of the stage in Norwood, a prescient Shaw explained how he saw the day playing out and what his role would be.
“I have taken on a bit of team captain role but we have a lot of wise heads in this team, Pat Lane who also came to Avanti Isowhey this year, has added such experience and he’s just so calm in the environment which helps,” Shaw said. “I’ll just take what comes. If I get into a move today I’ll enjoy that, if not I’ll embrace that next part of the chapter, which will be to help to sprint train. That’s just how I’ve always been, if there is an opportunity I’ll take it but if it doesn’t happen then I’ll help someone else who has a better chance of creating something good.”
AvantiIsowhey is represented by five riders in the seven-man team while Steele von Hoff graduated to the WorldTour ranks through New Zealand registered Continental team. It’s not just Avanti riders in the UniSA-Australian team though with the likes of Richie Porte (BMC), Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), Paddy Bevin (Cannondale) and Nathan Earle (Drapac) also pinning on race numbers this week.
“I think first and foremost it has to be great exposure for our sponsors and it’s probably the right exposure that’s deserved for the effort put in not only by the staff but also the riders to prepare and sit ends a sharp message to our competitors in the lower tier racing coming into this year,” Shaw said of the number of riders in the peloton who rode for Andrew Christie-Johnston’s team. “We have a list of guys who all want to go to the next level so that puts a lot of pressure on them as well, it’s just great to be in a environment where everybody is motivated and when that happens, everyone does get out something good.”
With AvantiIsowhey developing the reputation for regularly producing riders who go on to the WorldTour, Shaw added the experience of racing the Tour Down Under will further reinforce its status.
“Even our riders who probably aren’t really ready for the next level yet will really improve and develop this year because of being around those guys,” he said. “Having guys like Pat Lane and myself who have spent years in Europe and done the tough ride, it’s good inspiration for them as well to see that we haven’t kicked it to the curb, we’ve stuck with the sport.
“When they are having tough times, they’ll probably get through it because they know, well it’s probably not as bad as when that guy had to race in that country, didn’t speak the language, didn’t have much food, all that. It’s exciting times for the team, we keep saying it every year, but it’s probably the most exciting period for our team now."
At the end of the 2013 season, Shaw announced his intention to retire after one more season in the peloton. Explaining to Cyclingnews that he was ‘riding with no regrets’ in his supposed final season, instead Shaw’s second stint with Avanti has brought about personal and team success, helping Joe Cooper and Bevin claim individual NRS success along with continuing the team’s five-year run as the best on the domestic racing calendar. Asked then about his second coming and Shaw is quick to praise his wife for reversing his decision to hang up the wheels but is yet to commit to racing beyond 2016.
“Like I keep saying, I owe it all to my wife. She has been exceptional with our kids but also allowed me the opportunity to continue racing, she told me not to give it up and even to this day even says she’s says I think I am mad but if you can continue on, do it,” he said.
“At the end of the year, we’ll really have a good hard think but I think this will be the last year, but it’s getting a little old so we’ll see. I am just really happy with life in its whole part at the moment. Not just the bike, but in all parts of life I am really happy.”