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Gallery: Check out Thomas De Gendt's Ridley Helium SLX disc

Joe Robinson
31 Jan 2020

A bike that's destined to win from breakaways ridden by the peloton's most coveted rider. Photos: Laura Fletcher

Thomas De Gendt has become an enigma in the past few years. Racing for Lottos-Soudal, he has forged a reputation for being able to routinely win bike races from breakaways.

Usually, the chances of a breakaway victory are slim to none but when De Gendt gets in the mix, those odds shorten massively. His strike rate is simply impressive, not through luck but through his forensic planning.

Talking to Cyclist on the tricks of his trade last year, De Gendt said he would only get in a break if the stage is too difficult for sprinters but too routine for a General Classification battle. 

A perfect day would include around seven categorised climbs, mainly second and third category, working with a fellow four or five riders before emptying the tank in the final 70km. 

It is a tactic that worked on two occasions in 2019, twice in 2018 and most likely again in 2020.

And the bike that will be guiding him to this furthered success and cult-like fandom he has developed will by the Ridley Helium SLX Disc.

A Belgian brand, Ridley has been Lotto-Soudal's bike provider for quite a while now and has built a formidable partnership.

The Helium SLX is the brand's lightweight frame option and the bike of choice for De Gendt in 2020.

You may think that being a breakaway specialist he would opt for the aerodynamic Noah Fast disc but, for De Gendt, his gains are often made on the inclines meaning light and stiff are probably more important to him than aerodynamics.

The Belgian rider's aggressive racing style is matched by a fairly aggressive set up that sees a pushed forward saddle and a stem slammed almost all the way down to the toptube. 

Lotto-Soudal are the latest team to go disc-only meaning De Gendt has no choice but to use Campagnolo Super-Record EPS 12-speed disc, a groupset he used last year too.

Unlike a lot of De Gendt's fellow pros, he has stuck to quite a standard gear ratio of a 53/39, 11-29 rather than the swollen chainrings and 'get-out-of-jail' cassettes being used by many others.

Continuing the standard vibe, De Gendt's wheelset of choice is the mid-section Campagnolo Bora One tubulars with Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres. 

He also keeps it standard with what look to be 42cm bars and a 120mm stem, not as aggressive as plenty of others within the peloton.

The most important bit of kit on De Gendt's bike is likely his SRM PC8 power meter. After all, his breakaway efforts are often judged to the watt, meaning an accurate reading is absolutely vital.

As team leaders, Tim Wellens, Philippe Gilbert, John Degenkolb and Caleb Ewan were all given custom painted frames this year, as thanks for their efforts.

De Gendt was not among those deemed worthy enough for a special frame (despite us thinking he definitely is) so for him it's just the standard red and black Lotto-Soudal colourway.

This very bike will be racing next at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before returning to Europe for both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, two occasions where you could probably bet your bottom dollar that this bike will be present in a breakaway or 10.

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