PREVIEW | Dwars door Vlaanderen 2024 - In the absence of van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen fight for victory in final classic before Flanders

Dwars door Vlaanderen takes place on the 27th of March. This Belgian World Tour classic is the final warm-up race ahead of the Tour of Flanders; a very important step and race that tests many of the world's best classics riders. We preview the race ahead.

Between two historical cycling cities, Roeselare and Waregem, takes place the 2024 edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen. It's a big day for the classics specialists specially now that it's a World Tour event. It's the one major cobbled classic where endurance won't play a meaningful role as it's only 188.5 kilometers long. It's one that is very open for outsiders and sprinters to fight for victory, but simultaneously should see the experts on their best legs.

profile dwarsdoorvlaanderen2024
Roeselare - Waregem, 188.5 kilometers

The last 120 kilometers will see the entry in the bergs. They won’t be overly hard, mostly climbs that can put on the hurt in some but mostly just that, possible to open up some attacks early on. With 71.5 and 66 kilometers to go the peloton face the Berg ten Houte (1.1Km; 5.5%) and Kanarieberg (1.1Km; 8.8%), which should be the hardest combination of ascents in the day and has to be used to create damage in the peloton.

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More cobbled sectors have been added in the final kilometers of the race, which becomes more selective now. With 28.5, 25, 18, 14.5 and 5.5 kilometers the riders leave five consecutive sectors, with two slight uphill sections in Nokere. They will not be selective sectors, however attacks can come at any time specially right after the sectors as many domestiques will not have the legs to close down the moves right away.

The final 5.5 kilometers will be flat. It’s not a long run-up to the line so to reel attacks in won’t be easy, however it’s possible. The final straight is short, 250 meters long so if it does come down to a sprint positioning will be crucial going into it.

PREVIEW | Dwars door Vlaanderen 2024 - In the absence of van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen fight for victory in final classic before Flanders
Finale Dwars door Vlaanderen 2023

No rain but no sunshine either. As was the case in Gent-Wevelgem, the race will have significant amounts of wind and this time around it will come from the south. In a race with this much twisting and turning, it means tension will be on all day long, that does include the start which will have a few exposed crosswind sections. The final kilometers will feature mostly crosswinds - can't say that it will favour either a solo rider or a group, but it will certainly make it a tough finale.

The Favourites

Visma - So far they have not been able to use depth in these two classics. At Gent Wevelgem sure enough they were not trying, but at E3 they were distant. Dylan van Baarle has not reached good form and Jan Tratnik was not at the expected level. The team needs them to be able to use the numbers here and match Lidl-Trek. Tiesj Benoot could do well but not in a sprint and a flat finale. Wout van Aert will want to take a win before Flanders and really test his form to the maximum; after showing great legs at E3 he certainly can make the difference and take a solo win, but in a sprint of whichever group size he can certainly take the win. Matteo Jorgenson will also be present, the race isn't as hard as he'd like but surely he can also fight for the win specially if Visma manage to take control of the race.

Lidl-Trek - The absolute dominator of Gent - Wevelgem. They did there what Visma hope to do against van der Poel. They managed to use their numbers to wear out the World Champion. Here they fight against another team with depth however, it should be an interesting race in terrain that is not as selective and so tactics will matter more. Mads Pedersen has already taken a big win and so he will not have the pressure here. However I think that means he will likely be on the attack, and this time around Jonathan Milan should be saved more as an option for a sprint. He's certainly impressed this Sunday, whilst the team also has a very strong in-form Jasper Stuyven who can certainly attack to victory at any moment and even Toms Skujins who should mostly look at the climbs where he can make the difference and so likely be a card for earlier in the race. Alex Kirsch can also be a card to play.

The race in my opinion will be based around the battle between these two teams. They both have numbers, both have riders who can sprint well and will certainly be looking to attack and cover each other. However other riders can sneak in the fight with no doubt - although I wouldn't expect them to overpower both teams. Laurence Pithie is a rider that specially has captured my attention, he seems to lack the endurance for these brutal races but there is no doubt left that he's got the explosiveness to match the best in the climbs. Furthermore he packs a very strong sprint and also has Stefan Küng who finds very favourable terrain here.

Tim Wellens is certainly another big card to play. He and Nils Politt lead UAE and both have shown good form so far this spring; both have achieved results and like Groupama also have the numbers to frequently cover attacks from the two big teams. I would add Oier Lazkano as another significant favourite for this race, he had his classics breakthrough on these roads last year but this time around he comes as a consolidated classics rider and one who specially does well when the climbs are not overly hard.

Lotto Dstny did not do well last weekend but has the cards here with Brent van Moer, Victor Campenaerts and Alec Segaert who will be interesting outsiders, all strong rouleurs. Oliver Naesen, Rasmus Tiller, Magnus Sheffield, EF's Alberto Bettiol, and Quick-Step's Julian Alaphilippe will be further outsiders who will want have an aggressive race.

The race is unlikely to end in a sprint, but remember that it is not an overly hard one and the finale is rather flat. Perhaps not for victory, but plenty fast men - who haven't yet been mentioned - have the chance to fight for Top10 positions. Jasper Philipsen is definitely one who can fight for the win however judging by recent form and last year's Paris-Roubaix ride. Biniam Girmay is likely the other sprint who can surely have the legs to match the best in some of the important attacks.

We've got sprinters who at the time would hope for a very conservative race such as Arnaud Démare, Casper van Uden, Ethan Vernon and Alexander Kristoff. Other fast men could be very interesting on a good day such as Luca Mozzato, Pierre Gautherat, Danny van Poppel, Nils Eekhoff, Corbin Strong and Dries van Gestel. Soudal - Quick-Step may also hope for a sprint to have any meaningful result at the moment having Paul Magnier and Casper Pedersen as cards to play.

Prediction Dwars door Vlaanderen 2024:

*** Wout van Aert, Mads Pedersen
** Matteo Jorgenson, Jasper Stuyven, Laurence Pithie, Tim Wellens
* Jan Tratnik, Jonathan Milan, Toms Skujins, Stefan Küng, Oier Lazkano, Jasper Philipsen, Biniam Girmay

Pick: Wout van Aert

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