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Gallery: The beautiful benefit of being a team leader

3 Jan 2020

Lotto-Soudal have handed their four team leaders some spectacular custom bikes

Words: Joe Robinson

There are many advantages and disadvantages to being a leader of a professional cycling team. Chief among the disadvantages is the pressure. You are expected to win and when you don’t, fingers will be pointed at you. Underperform on one too many occasions and people will gossip that you’re past it.

You also sacrifice more. Train harder, stick to that diet more, analyse your performances more closely. It’s what's needed to gain that extra per cent. You also have to spend more time talking to the media, less time resting or catching up with family at races, too.

Leadership also comes with selfishness. All winners are incredibly selfish, comes with the territory and for some, it’s quite uncomfortable.

But there are plenty of advantages. You are most likely to get paid the most. You don’t have to drop back to the team car for bottles or food, people do that for you. And, most importantly, you earn the right to have your own custom bike, something the four leaders of Lotto-Soudal will all benefit from in 2020.

Extablised team members Tim Wellens and Caleb Ewan, along with new signings John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert will all be treated to custom coloured Ridley bikes for the next season as a reminder of the expectations that come with leading the team.

Both Ewan and Degenkolb will opt for the Ridley Noah Fast aero bike while Gilbert and Wellens will spend their season racing on the Helium SLX.

Interestingly, all four alongside the entire team will be racing disc as Lotto-Soudal have become the latest team to race exclusively on disc-brakes, joining Movistar who already announced their move away from rim brakes.

Unlike Movistar, however, Lotto-Soudal will remain loyal to Italian groupset manufacturer Campagnolo, using its Super Record EPS 12-speed groupsets alongside Campagnolo Bora One wheels.

The stem and bar combination will be provided by Deda while Sella Italia will provide the saddles. The team will also use SRM PC12 power meters.

Of all the four special editions Ridleys being used by the team leaders, the most striking is Degenkolb’s. He breaks free of the red, white and black colour scheme to race on a classy looking green face frame which the team says is ‘Racing Green Metallic to Copperish Green’.

It’s elegant and stylish, just like Degenkolb himself, and will hopefully guide the German back to the form he had before that training ride crash with a car in 2017.