2024 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Favorites - It's Wout Van Aert

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Favorites - It's Wout Van Aert

Wout van Aert & Team Visma aim for victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024. Explore race favorites, strategies, and weather for the cobbled classic.

Feb 21, 2024 by Gregor Brown
Van Aert & The Omloop Showdown Preview

Can anyone stop Wout van Aert and Team Visma-Lease a Bike from repeating their success at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this Saturday? Wout van Aert, the top classics favorite, is at the head of the start list of around 170 riders. We'll go through the favorites and the weather here in a minute, and just why Van Aert should be the number one to beat.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kicks off the cobbled one-day events that others like Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix follow over the next 45 days. Many of the same cobbled sectors and climbs that the riders face on Saturday will feature in the other races ahead. It's a great opportunity for us as fans, and the riders, to familiarize ourselves with every turn and twist.

Look out for cobbled sectors like Paddestraat, and of course the climbs of the Molenberg, and the final duo of the Muur-Kapelmuur and the Bosberg.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Favorite Wout Van Aert

Wout van Aert's goal this season is to win one of the big monuments missing from his palmarès: the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. To get there, he's made some changes in his program, primarily cutting his cyclocross season to the bare minimum, and not racing the Worlds like Mathieu van der Poel.

This is the first step in his spring campaign, his march towards Flanders and Roubaix, where he wants to add to a rich résumé that already includes Milano-Sanremo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Strade Bianche, and Amstel Gold, not to mention stages and the points jersey in the Tour de France.

Visma-Lease a Bike Classics Team

He already won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2022. His team includes last year's winner, Dylan Van Baarle, who went on a victory march on the Molenberg to eventually win solo. Also in the team, making his debut, is American Matteo Jorgenson. Van Baarle, Jorgenson, and Christophe Laporte - third in 2023 – come straight from an altitude camp in Tenerife.

They are joined by Jan Tratnik, who we saw firing in Spain's gravel race along with Sepp Kuss once Van Aert was eliminated by a puncture. And of course, Tiesj Benoot and Edoardo Affini are also part of the team.

And Van Aert is going well! After his puncture in Clasica Jaen, he went to the Volta ao Algarve to sprint with the best, winning stage three, and climb just as well, nearly derailing Remco Evenepoel's path to overall victory on the final stage.

I'm particularly excited about Jorgenson in the team. The 24-year-old rode to fourth last year in E3 and then ninth in the Tour of Flanders, now joining a super team and getting a shot to race the classics alongside Van Aert, not to mention being on tap for the Tour de France with Sepp Kuss and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard.

The 2024 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Start List

While we are waving our US flags, let's keep an eye on Riley Sheehan, the 23-year-old who won Paris-Tours in 2023 and landed a contract with Israel-Premier Tech. The team also includes Canadian strongmen, Guillaume Boivin and Derek Gee.

Other notable riders include Tom Pidcock of Team Ineos, who took time off from cyclocross races this winter to focus on the 2024 season that includes the classics, the Tour de France, and mountain biking at the Olympics. Pidcock too showed in the Volta ao Algarve he's in flying form. In the team for Saturday, he'll be joined by hardmen Luke Rowe, Ben Turner, Salvatore Puccio, and Cam Wurf.

Soudal-Quick Step will field Yves Lampaert and Julian Alaphilippe, Tim Wellens leads UAE. With Mads Pedersen not racing for Team Lidl-Trek, it's Jasper Stuyven at the helm. Alberto Bettiol and Michael Valgren will represent Team EF Education, and look out for Oier Lazkano, the Spanish Champion of Movistar who won the Clasica Jaen gravel race from an escape.

Arnaud De Lie sprinted to second last year behind our solo winner but will be penalized this year as Lotto-Dstny teammate Florian Vermeersch is out with a broken leg.

Weather Forecast For Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Let's talk about the weather for a moment because, as we know, last year it was a bitter cold day with a mix of everything: rain, hail, wind, and even sunshine for the finish - it's Belgium, after all.

This year, the riders will be facing a day that's a bit of a mixed bag. The forecast calls for overcast conditions with a chance of sprinkles later in the day. Temperatures are expected to hover around 38°F (3°C) to 47°F (8°C), feeling slightly cooler due to wind speeds reaching up to 16 mph or 25 kph.

So while the rain may not be as heavy as last year, riders and fans should still brace themselves for a true Belgian day. The wind, coming from the southwest, will certainly add an extra tactical factor in the stretches between cobbled sectors and climbs.

Just like the race's outcome, the weather remains uncertain but rest assured, all will be revealed this Saturday at the 2024 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.