Jan Bakelants predicts Wout van Aert victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but warns "you can also be too fresh at the start of a race"

Wout van Aert heads into this weekend's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as the favourite to claim victory. Given his impressive showing at the Volta ao Algarve, there is understandable hype around the Belgian once again.

Speaking on the Wuyts & Vlaeminck podcast for HLN, ex-pro Jan Bakelants revealed how impressed he was with van Aert's performance in Portugal, especially on the final stage, where the Team Visma | Lease a Bike star attempted a long-range GC raid. “Normally I only see him so clearly when he leaves for the Tour de France,” says Bakelants. “In the final stage of the Tour of the Algarve I saw a Wout van Aert who had put himself in the shoes of the van Aert in the Tour de France."

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Although van Aert's move was ultimately unsuccessful, it made for excellent viewing. "He immediately put Remco Evenepoel under pressure from the start of the ride," Bakelants continues. "He also tried to take the stage victory himself. In this way he sought out the fatigue. As a result, he also stacks the shape.”

Nevertheless, despite his impressive showing, Bakelants does have a word of warning for van Aert. “Toughness and freshness are communicating vessels,” he explains. “The trick is to find the right balance. It sounds strange, but you can also be too fresh at the start of a race. But that will not be the case with van Aert. Because van Aert has put the tension on his legs perfectly over the past week. In recent years he has always become ill during this period. He must avoid that now.”

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