PREVIEW | Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024 - Visma versus the rest; Dutch team leads with Van Aert, Laporte, Van Baarle, Tratnik and Jorgenson

Preview. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first cobbled classic of the season and the first out of the 'Opening Weekend'. A race with great historic significance, until today it continues to signal the start of the spring classics campaign.

202 kilometers on the menu for the first big cobbled classic of the season. Although not as big as the April challenges it's a big day on the bike, with a warm-up for the monuments. The first half of the day should be relatively calm with only a couple of sectors and bergs, but this will change shortly after.

From 56 to 27.5Km to go we find the second set of sectors, where attacks are expected, anticipating the run-up to Geraardsbergen. Here is where team depth will kick in, with many teams looking to put pressure over the rivals and distance themselves from the responsibility of working. Here there will be four cobbled sectors, four bergs and one sector which is both cobbled and uphill, all in quick succession.

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PREVIEW | Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024 - Visma versus the rest; Dutch team leads with Van Aert, Laporte, Van Baarle, Tratnik and Jorgenson
Gent - Ninove, 202.3 kilometers

The final decisive sections come with the Muur de Geraardsbergen, summiting with 16 kilometers to go, needs no introduction, will be a place where any group ahead of the peloton will loose time as the leadout to the cobbles is always furious. Over the top gaps can be created, the Bosberg will follow quickly after with 12 kilometers to go, it’s also hard but to create gaps is much more complicated, unless if it’s a sprint over the top.

PREVIEW | Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024 - Visma versus the rest; Dutch team leads with Van Aert, Laporte, Van Baarle, Tratnik and Jorgenson
Muur de Geraardsbergen: 1.2Km; 7% average gradient; 20% maximum gradient; 16Km to go
Bosberg: 800 meters; 6.5% average gradient; 13% maximum gradient; 12Km to go

Things consolidate between the two sectors and the riders within a chance of winning are usually very evenly matched, and separated in the steep gradients. From there on it’s a fast, slight downhill approach to Ninove where the riders will finish the race in familiar roads. The same technical finale of previous year won't be present, but it will nonetheless be a flat finish just outside the city center.

PREVIEW | Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024 - Visma versus the rest; Dutch team leads with Van Aert, Laporte, Van Baarle, Tratnik and Jorgenson

The Weather

PREVIEW | Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024 - Visma versus the rest; Dutch team leads with Van Aert, Laporte, Van Baarle, Tratnik and Jorgenson
Map Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024

6 degrees maximum temperature, grey sky, some rain in the forecast and lots of rain the days leading up to the race. It will be a tough old day in Flanders with grim weather that is certain. Not a pleasant day on the bike, these conditions will make it tougher. We've also got strong wind blowing from the south and this will be key for the race's outcome. The riders will face a cross-headwind from the Vossenhol to the Muur de Geraardsbergen which will not help early attacks much but...

Between the Muur and the Bosberg we've got a crosswind, and after the final climb it's a cross-tailwind and block tailwind. Tailwind and slight downhill run-up to the line means any rider getting a gap can be impossible to reel in. Teams with numbers have everything to attack for victory here. A solo attack becomes a likely scenario for victory, but any sort of attack towards the end will be favoured.


This will be a race bossed by Visma. Five riders who can attack and win realistically. All five will attack if needed, I would say starting from the final 65 kilometers. It should start around the Valkenberg. If uphill, they may attack hard and try to create a small group when the roads are tight. Then attack in turns until one rider goes away and cover all counter-attacks with their other riders.

That's likely a tactic to be used late in the race however. Certainly they move from early on but there they need a group. They do need to be careful with who they take with them, because a few other riders come in with great form. Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte should be among early attackers because if the winning group is formed there, in a possible sprint they have good chances of winning.

Most likely other teams should fully dedicate themselves if they enter a move with a Visma rider. Visma will not chase it and may work to stop others from chasing it efficiently. Hence, they can at least fight for a podium; but possibly a win if the pieces fit into place. I very much believe it will be a race with a very specific dynamic: Visma vs. the rest, and I would give a 70-30% balance.

The Favourites

Visma - The team to beat. Edoardo Affini and likely Tiesj Benoot will be in support, the latter because he's returning from injury. A team of main favourites, not individual contenders. Five riders who should likely attack in turns from very early on. Wout van Aert who needs no introduction but wants to prove a point; Jan Tratnik who is on blistering form after Murcia and the Algarve; defending champion Dylan van Baarle, European Champion Christophe Laporte and Matteo Jorgenson who start their season here after altitude and are each very strong contenders, being able to climb but also ride solo at any point of the race. Honestly, it is very hard to see them being defeated, the Dutch team not only have the quality but also the brains (both in the peloton and the car). They will want to boss the race from early on and then cover all counter-attacks with their other leaders.

Arnaud De Lie - Three race days so far, only one suited him however. De Lie has had an unusual preparation towards Omloop and will have a very long spring. We have little indication of the form he arrives at. Last year he thrived here in what was an incredible performance, and he does love these races. No doubt, he has the talent to win this race, but some teams will indeed look at him as a rider who needs to be dropped. This is not good for him, specially taking into consideration that he's not too experienced or overly strong in the classics. Lotto do have a nice team but nothing to compete with Visma, the have to count on alliances.

Alpecin - The debut of Jasper Philipsen this season. After his performances of last year little would surprise me. Second at Roubaix, this race features a different set of efforts but he can certainly survive these small climbs and with no doubt a premium sprinter in this race. Alpecin also have Soren Kragh Andersen who can be very dangerous in such terrain and cover big attacks. Gianni Vermeersch, Quinten Hermans and Lars Boven give Alpecin some good depth that they can definitely use early in the race.

Quick-Step - The old leaders in such races, what can they currently do? It's a big question, one I do not have an answer yet. Julian Alaphilippe looked decent at the Tour Down Under; but that does not mean the same happens here. A media turmoil is currently surrounding him, it shouldn't change his performance, he does not have a good history in these weather conditions. Kasper Asgreen was the one Quick-Step rider which on occasion looked good last spring, a decent contender for a result. Yves Lampaert and Casper Pedersen provide options, but quite modest in comparison to what other teams have on offer.

Matej Mohoric - A monster of endurance, the leader of Bahrain - Victorious can certainly thrive in what is expected to be a brutal race. If he can get in the right move he can be a nightmare for rivals; he certainly will not be afraid to attack even among such competition. Mohoric has already won at the Volta a Comunitat Valenciana, like last year I do expect to see him up the front in both races of the Opening Weekend.

Tom Pidcock - We can expect the best or nothing much. Tom Pidcock is a very inconsistent rider who is not focusing on the cobbled classics this spring; but is leading INEOS here. In the Algarve he did show good form, he certainly has the explosivity to fly up the Muur. He needs to not get blown by the wind before getting there however!

Tim Wellens - Tim Wellens leads UAE in this race. Nils Politt and Rui Oliveira nice outsiders to keep an eye on who are great rouleurs, but Wellens is the main weapon. Last year he flew up the Muur de Geraardsbergen, and he showed great form in Mallorca as usual. I expect him to be with the best in the finale, and he is a rider that loves this weather. We're in absolute Wellens territory, and without Tadej Pogacar in the mix he can do quite well as team leader.

Uno-X - Not a team to discard. Rasmus Tiller has proven himself as a very strong climber in these short efforts over the past few years; however at the same time he may provide a key support role for Soren Waerenskjold if he shows his best level. He showed at the Saudi Tour once again that he can climb well and a full team of Norwegians will love a cold and rainy day. It is difficult to consider Alexander Kristoff for a dangerous role this year, but nevertheless it is worth mentioning him even if as a very experienced rider.

The likes of Stefan Küng and Oier Lazkano will be good riders for a tough race but their terrain is not the steep climbs. We've got a powerhouse trio in Israel - Premier Tech of Krists Neilands, Derek Gee and Riley Sheehan; Bob Jungels for BORA; Alexey Lutsenko and Ide Schelling for Astana; Alberto Bettiol for EF Education; Axel Zingle for Cofidis; Jasper Stuyven for Lidl-Trek and Florian Sénéchal for Arkéa.

We've got a few fast men in teams that will carry no responsibility. By no means is this a day that seems suited to the fast men, but they can certainly contest for some minor results. We've got the likes of Biniam Girmay and Matteo Trentin who have performed quite well in the past in this type of race. Jordi Meeus and Jonathan Milan are seriously fast finishers who are interesting outsiders; Luca Mozzato, Iván García Cortina, Tom van Asbroeck and Marius Mayrhofer will also be riders to keep under eye.

Prediction Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2024:

*** Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte
** Jan Tratnik, Tim Wellens, Matej Mohoric
* Dylan van Baarle, Matteo Jorgenson, Jasper Philipsen, Soren Kragh Andersen, Kasper Asgreen, Tom Pidcock, Stefan Küng, Matteo Trentin

Pick: Christophe Laporte

Preview written by Rúben Silva

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