At the end of 2013, Pat Shaw announced that the upcoming season would be his last as a professional bike rider. The Victorian would spent his final year on the road with Satalyst-Giant, switching teams from Huon Genesys, now known as Avanti, where he was instrumental to the recent successes of the Tasmanian squad.
Last week, Avanti announced that Shaw would be re-joining the team in 2015, putting retirement on hold for another year.
"I didn't think that I had much left in me either, this year when I was healthy, and although the results don't show it, I was actually one of the strongest riders in the NRS which made me want to get back and keep on pounding away," Shaw told Cyclingnews of his decision to extend his career.
Shaw added that a move to the Western Australian team predominantly made up of younger riders from the best team in NRS presented new challenges which was also reinvigorating.
"I was riding with no regrets but I kind of all ways ride like that anyway but I think when you do the roles I do, motivate young guys and keep their moral up, its infectious and you feed off your own work with them," Shaw said of how he approached the 2014 season.
"I really enjoyed getting together with a bunch of guys who had really small belief in themselves. They probably wouldn't admit it, but they didn't belief they were very good bike riders and at the start of season they didn't believe they belonged at the front of the peloton."
Knowing that he needed to set the standard of form and fitness needed to contestant the NRS, Shaw added, "If I am telling them to prepare well then I need to set an example because that's the best way for it to work," he said. "If I turn up to races in good condition then things just fall together.
"If you do the preparation and you go the races as a quality rider then you're going to find yourself in the mix and it only takes one or two front groups that you make and you just want more."
A shift in focus from personal to team ambitions may leave a few riders looking for opportunities elsewhere, Shaw explained that seeing the long-term benefits of his role with Satalyst-Giant is more satisfying than any individual success.
"To teach them to have that pride and belief that they do as much hard work as anyone else and they deserve their right to race their bikes at the front," he said of his team orientated role this season. "To see them execute that gives you a lot of happiness, but more importantly, that those guys are going to gone next and years after and carry those skills that you've taught them so you'll always be in the back of their minds."
"Winning is obviously the best way publicly to show that you have improved as a group, but you need to set goals and when you achieve a goal it's the most satisfy part. I've said for years now that helping other people win races that they might not have if I want involved, is by far the most satisfying feeling in sport that I've ever felt."
Reunited with Avanti
During his previous three year stint with the Huon Genesys set up, Shaw was one of the architects behind the teams various successes.
"Helping Steele von Hoff to his many wins as his lead out man as Genesys was fantastic," he said of his time with the team. "To win the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with Nathan Haas against the odds was superb. Those sorts of feelings, I haven't ridden WorldTour, but at the end of the day it's not where you get to but it what it means to you personally. I can see those guys an day of the week and we still remain basically like family.
"There aren't many people who can say that about relationships with people that they've known for basically one year."
Racing against his ex-teammates was a mixed affair for Shaw who admitted he keep an eye on their progress without him.
"Because the riders are so talented but still have a lot to learn, seeing them making mistakes was frustrating. I really enjoyed being on the other side and putting the team under pressure during races to show guys on the team that previously I helped potentially to win races or maybe I just rode the front in a tour that they did well in it. Just to show that if I really want to have a go individually then I can mix it with them as well.
"So on a personal level, that was quiet satisfying and I really enjoyed it actually. I think it made the NRS pretty interesting as well because I knew I lot of their chessboard moves and could preempt them well and that's probably why I did well against them in the races that I did."
Avanti co-founder Andrew Christie-Johnson has been heralded as one of the best cycling minds in Australia for not only dominating the domestic racing scene but also for having had six riders go onto to race at WorldTour level.
The opportunity to reunite with Christie-Johnson was the deal breaker for Shaw once he'd decided to race on in 2015.
"Ultimately, Andrew Christie-Johnson will remain the ultimate tactician that he is and he probably doesn't get the credit that he deserves from that side of things. His analytic skills of teams, individual riders, race conditions, course…all those things and the ability to combine them all together and combine a race plan, is emphatic and probably the biggest reason why id be involved in the team.
"He's a really fantastic and interesting manager to be honest."
While the team rode in a different style to when Shaw was part of the set-up, he is insure just what the 2015 iteration of Avanti will look like just yet.
"When I was there, we were a bit more aggressive as we were represented a lot more in breakaways," he said. This year, they rode a lot more on the front. Personally, I am not a fan of just carry the peloton around all day every day. It will depend on what Andrew decides on the day, and we always discuss things, but it will be exciting whatever we do."
One style is certain to remain the same next season is Shaw's dedication to the team and his teammates as the 28-year-old isn't suddenly going to be asking to be a full-time protected rider.
"Make the team as successful as possible and let's hope we produce a few more young superstars," Shaw said of his ambitions for next season. "Personally, not superstars straightaway, but at least get them into Europe into the bigger teams which is what they do best as a team."
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