"It's clear that right now the favourite to win is Mathieu van der Poel" - Lance Armstrong & Johan Bruyneel preview upcoming Spring Classics

Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and George Hincapie have analysed what they expect from the spring classics, with a special focus on what Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel can do in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix after a cyclocross season dominated by the Dutchman.

Bruyneel commented on Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders that Wout van Aert has put aside the cyclocross season and Milano-Sanremo to focus on the two monuments "that a Belgian must win." Reigning champion, Tadej Pogacar will not be in Flanders, so the van Aert vs. Mathieu van der Poel duel seems to be set in stone.

George Hincapie, former winner of Gent Wevelgem, gave his opinion: "Van der Poel has been unstoppable in the cyclocross season, but talking about the Classics, I really like Wout van Aert's preparation this year. Different, I think he has a great team around him, even better than van der Poel's for the classics. And Tom Pidcock, he seems more focused on wanting to do Grand Tours."

"I think he's going to focus on Liège-Bastogne-Liège, he has no options in the pave classics, not that he wants to try to win the Tour de France next year, but he wants to see how far he can go, see if he makes it to the top 5. He's the big favourite for Mountain Bike Gold at the Paris Olympics," Bruyneel said of the British rider from INEOS Grenadiers.

On the fact that there are some riders who can win both classics and grand tours at the moment, Bruyneel looks back to the Eddy Merckx era to see something similar: "I still believe that cycling today is more specific (in the sense that riders are specialized in a specific discipline and not in several) and that these guys are an exception."

"We should completely separate the cyclocross season from what's going to happen in the classics. I'm curious to see what happens with his new preparation, I've seen him in some races run out of legs with 30-20km to go. It's clear that right now the favourite to win is van der Poel, he's the one who has the most to lose. It's tough for van Aert, the press is very critical of him," Bruyneel concluded.

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