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Damien Shaw Claims Maiden Professional Victory

posted 17 Apr 2017, 05:47 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun. 16th April 2017)   
Lakeside Wheelers clubman and An Post Chainreaction rider Damien Shaw has experienced some great days on the bike during his illustrious cycling career, however, last Wednesday was certainly a watershed day for him.
Competing in the 58th edition of the UCI 5-day, Tour du Loir-et-Cher in France, Shaw won the opening stage and so, took the yellow jersey at this prestigious race. This was the Mullingar man’s first win as a professional cyclist and is all the more amazing as it was his first race back after being laid up for over two months with rib and wrist injuries which he sustained in a fall whilst training earlier this year. 

His victory came about after some very smart and astute riding which is testament to his development as a professional rider. In typical Shaw fashion, Damien infiltrated an early breakaway and used the power he is renowned for to ensure that this group kept a good advantage on the chasing peloton. In the closing kilometres, former An Post Ras stage winner and member of the French Army cycling team, Thomas Rostallan, made a break for stage glory but Damien held his nerve. In the final 1500m, Shaw, who has also graced the Ras podium launched himself from the chase group in pursuit of the Frenchman and came home a clear four seconds ahead of the 200 strong peloton to claim his maiden Pro win.

Not content with this spectacular start to the 2017 season, Damien, with the help of his teammates went on to retain the Yellow jersey for a full three days as the race crisscrossed the villages and cities of the Loire/ Cher region. This included a hard fought 3rd stage on Friday which covered a whopping 211kms incorporating three categorised climbs and some technical off-road sections. However, the fairy-tale ending that all Irish and even some international cycling fans were hoping for was not to be as the 2nd year professional lost his prized “Maillot Jaune” on the penultimate 142km stage into Montrichard on Saturday evening.

The relentless efforts to defend the leader’s jersey finally took their toll on the six-man An Post Chainreaction team when it succumbed to what one prominent cycling journalist referred to as, the “Danish mafia”. He was referring to the winning breakaway on Saturday’s stage which comprised five Danish riders representing three different Continental teams from Denmark. Shaw was in a chasing bunch coming in just over a minute in arrears meaning he had slipped to sixth on general classification to the stage winner, and new race leader, Alexander Kamp of Team Veloconcept.

But he was upbeat about it all afterwards and stated gracefully “I’m obviously disappointed. But once I saw the severity of the circuit today I was a little bit resigned to it.” Referring to the hilly terrain the former national road race champion said, “It was a really tough finish, dog eat dog stuff. You wouldn’t send goats up this. There was a lot of steep stuff and some technical stuff, short, sharp turns into them, sharp descents, all sorts of stuff.” When questioned about the breakaway Damien said “I remember seeing a move going off the front on one of the steep climbs before the circuit. It was a long, straight, steep road with a sharp right at the top. I saw a move go off the front, I was seeing stars at that point and you don’t know who these riders are getting away.” Isolated and on his own he could do nothing to close the gaps and was subsequently relieved of the most sought after jersey in bike racing.

Despite his huge disappointment, Shaw lined up for the final stage which was a 100km “dash” (45km/h avg. speed) around the city of Blois and retained his magnificent 6th place overall. 

Without a shadow of doubt, this week’s performance and top ten result has catapulted Damien Shaw into the shop window of big time cycling. His next race will be the Rutland Classic in England and then he will rest up before focusing on one of his major goals for 2017, the An Post Ras. 

Best wishes from all at Lakeside Wheelers, yet again, you have done yourself, your club and your home town proud.

Damien Shaw all smiles as he accepts the Yellow jersey at the Tour du Loir-et-Cher 2017
Damien Shaw all smiles as he accepts the Yellow jersey at the Tour du Loir-et-Cher 2017