Is Luca Shaw set to replace Steve Peat for the Santa Cruz Syndicate?
The rumours are flying
As Steve Peat enters the twilight of his racing career he's going to leave some very big boots to fill and the rumours are flying that Luca Shaw could be the man for the job.
Photos: Seb Schiek
Who is Luca Shaw?
For those of you not up to speed, Luca Shaw, 20, is a second year elite currently racing for SRAM TLD Racing/RockShox. After picking up a handful of wins in the junior category, the young American has taken to elites like a duck to water clocking up an 11th at his first race and picking up three top tens since, including a sixth in Fort William this year.
What's the evidence?
The biggest clue we have comes from Rob Warner, who said during Luca's Lenzerheide race run: "he's tipped to be on the Santa Cruz Syndicate next year, rumours flying around about that." Claudio hadn't heard the rumours, and neither had we, but we're sure Warner wouldn't have let it slip if it didn't come from a good source (don't forget he was riding with Peaty a few weeks ago).
Luca Shaw also featured in the latest episode of the Syndicate. He was in Morzine with Greg Minnaar competing in a Spartan endurance race and doing some filming on Le Pleney. Just before this was released he posted an Instagram video of himself dining with the Syndicate after the race on Saturday (click to play):
Finally, Luca already rides on a Santa Cruz V10 so it's clear the brand will have an eye on him - and it would make his transition into the Syndicate a lot smoother.
Would he be a good fit?
Riding for the Syndicate is one of the most prestigious jobs on the World Cup circuit and on pace alone he should have no trouble slotting in. He currently sits 11th in the overall standings (higher than both Bryceland and Peaty) and, at just 20 years old, he has a lot of potential to be one of the very fastest in the world - especially with a legend like Minnaar offering him some guidance. Shaw is also American (and Californian born) which would no doubt be a plus for Santa Cruz.
What has santa cruz said?
At the moment they're tight lipped about the whole thing but it seems Peat may not be replaced at all.
Will Ockelton, global marketing director, said: "[Luca]’s a sound bloke who rides a Santa Cruz… that’s why he’s been hanging out with all of us recently. (We’d probably have been a lot more discrete about our media output surrounding him if some sort of announcement was imminent!)
"To be fair, Luca does play a mean game of crocodile at Le Cottage in Morzine though. And Minnaar seems to have made that game a rite of passage for anyone wanting proximity to the team. But don’t read too much into that either. “Phil the Plumber", who was on holiday there last week, also plays a good game, and I can’t see him being on the Syndicate in 2017.
"With Peaty retiring this year, the question of "what next?" for the Syndicate is something that’s come up here at Santa Cruz, for sure. But the team’s never been about a set number of spots that need to be filled. It’s always been about Rob building his dream team of personalities, and right now he hasn’t licked or stamped any gold envelopes as far as I’m aware."
Read into that what you will but bear in mind it would be the first time the Syndicate picked up a new rider since Bryceland and Minnaar in 2007. If Shaw is even half as successful as those two then he will definitely be one to watch over the next few years. It looks like we may have to wait until the cryptic Instagrams start flying before we really find out who (if anyone) will ascend to the golden saddle in the Syndicate.