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OMLOOP HET NIEUWSBLAD Preview: The First Big Battle of 2024

The Cobbles start here.

Race Preview Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: It feels like the 2024 season started a long time ago in Australia, but the ‘real’ season only starts with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. This Saturday, February 24th, the peloton hits the Belgian cobbles and the fans will be out to cheer on their favourites: Wout van Aert, Jasper Philipsen, Christophe Laporte, Arnaud De Lie and many others will do battle in the ‘opening weekend’.

Dylan van Baarle – 2023 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The Last 10 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Winners:
2023: Dylan van Baarle (Ned)
2022: Wout van Aert (Bel)
2021: Davide Ballerini (Ita)
2020: Jasper Stuyven (Bel)
2019: Zdeněk Štybar (CZ)
2018: Michael Valgren (Den)
2017: Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
2016: Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
2015: Ian Stannard (GB)
2014: Ian Stannard (GB).


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Het Volk 1983
If you are of a certain age you will still say ‘Het Volk’ – Jan Raas in 1983

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2023 Result:
1. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
2. Arnaud De Lie (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:20
3. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Jumbo-Visma
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Uno-X
5. Tom Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers.

het nieuwsblad23
Dylan van Baarle again in 2023?

The Route
After the teams are presented in Gent’s Kuipke velodrome, the riders make their way to the official start in Merelbeke. The peloton will have more than 200 kilometres ahead of them, five kilometres less than last year. In the first 100 kilometres of the Omloop, the riders pass through the Zwalmstreek and Oudenaarde. The Leberg and the Lange Munte are the only difficulties in this first part of the race. After 100 kilometres the climbs come one after the other, about every 10 kilometres the riders will be faced with a tough climb. The Katteberg and the cobbles of the Holleweg are the first on the menu, then the Haaghoek-Leberg, Paddestraat, Hostellerie and Valkenberg are on the route.

Het Nieuwsblad 2024
Omloop Het Nieusblad’24 map

With 45 kilometres to go, the finale begins. The Wolvenberg comes first, it doesn’t have cobbles, so it is not too difficult, next is the cobbles of the Holleweg and then after the Wolvenberg the cobbles of the Kerkgate and Jagerij follow. The Molenberg has been missing in recent years but it is back again. Then it is the Haaghoek, Leberg and Berendries. From the top of the steep Berendries there is only 27.5 kilometres to the finish in Ninove. A few kilometres later there is the Vossenhol, after which there is a short break before the most famous climb in Flanders: the Muur van Geraardsbergen. This iconic cobbled climb is just 16 kilometres from the finish. If the race has not been decided on the Muur, there is still the Bosberg and the 12 kilometres to the slightly uphill finish line of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Elisabethlaan in Ninove.

Het Nieuwsblad 2024
Omloop Het Nieusblad’24 profile

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Climbs:
Leberg (162.8km)
Kattenberg (98.6km)
Leberg (89km)
Hostellerie (72km)
Valkenberg (64.1 km)
Wolvenberg (53.6 km)
Molenberg (41.2 km)
Leberg (another 33.7km)
Berendries (29.6km)
Vossenhol (27.km)
Muur van Geraardsbergen – Kapelmuur (15.7km)
Bosberg (11.8km).

Cobbled Sections:
Haaghoek (165.8 km)
Lange Munte (114.1 km)
Holleweg (97.8 km)
Haaghoek (92.1 km)
Paddestraat (82.9 km)
Holleweg (56.2 km)
Kerkgate (50 km)
Jagerij (47.4 km)
Haaghoek (36.7 km).

The first real Classic of 2024 – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The Favourites
There are many favourites for the first classic of the year, but most of the top Classics riders don’t have much competition kilometres in their legs yet. They may have ridden a stage race somewhere in the sun, but that would have been just for training, a Belgian Classic is a different plate of Stoofvlees (Flemish beef stew). The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad can have different scenarios. Riders can attack on the climbs and/or on the cobbles for a brave solo, a small group could hold off the peloton, or there could be a bunch (large group) sprint finish.

Wout van Aert on the Bosberg

Visma | Lease a Bike has the strongest team on paper: Wout van Aert, last year’s winner Dylan van Baarle, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Jan Tratnik, Matteo Jorgenson and Edoardo Affini. Affini and Tratnik will probably be on domestique work, but you never know. Dylan van Baarle proved last year that he can win races and should be the ‘second in charge’ if the chance comes his way. Of course all eyes will be on Wout van Aert, but he can win in that situation. Two years ago, Van Aert rode everyone off his wheel on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, to then solo to victory. This year Van Aert has raced less cyclo-cross this year and has had a more steady build-up to the Classics season, but he did recently win a stage of the Volta ao Algarve. For European champion Christophe Laporte, the Omloop will be his first race of the season, but you can’t rule him out.

tour 2023
Jasper Philipsen – More than a sprinter?

This season Alpecin-Deceuninck has Jasper Philipsen on its roster, but Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is not his best race. In his three previous participations, Philipsen was never in the top 30. Although the Limburg sprinter has only really tried to achieve results in the cobbled Classics since last year. He was second in the 2023 Paris-Roubaix and rode well in Dwars door Vlaanderen, so he is another possible.

wallonia23 st2
De Lie up to first place

Arnaud De Lie is another power sprinter and had a stunning Omloop in 2023 were he climbed the Muur van Geraardsbergen with the best and then fought hard with the Jumbo-Visma pair of Van Baarle and Laporte to finish second. Lotto Dstny’s top rider is still only 21, but the Belgian team wants him to start winning. Victor Campenaerts and Brent Van Moer will be there for back up.

Flanders winner – Kasper Asgreen

Soudal Quick-Step was always the team to watch in the cobbled Classics, but those days might be behind the Belgian super team. Their last victory in a cobbled classic, that was the Tour of Flanders in 2021. The winner was Kasper Asgreen and he still has what it takes. Patrick Lefevere’s boys can’t be ignored, Julian Alaphilippe also wants to take his chance on the cobbles again after almost three years. Yves Lampaert and Gianni Moscon are also no slouches.

Jasper Stuyven who won Het Nieuwsblad in 2020
Jasper Stuyven – Het Nieuwsblad winner in 2020

Lidl-Trek is usually a team for the Classics, and although they don’t have Mads Pedersen, but they can rely on Jasper Stuyven who won Het Nieuwsblad in 2020. Then there is the Italian youngster Jonathan Milan. In the 2023 edition, Milan put in several attack attempts, showing for the first time that he is more than just a sprinter and he said that he likes the Classics, the Omloop will be a first important test. Belgian, Edward Theuns knows the roads and with his help, Milan should be a young man to watch.

Never forget Tom Pidcock

Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) are both attackers and top bike handlers. If either of them escape they are not likely to give an inch on the winding, undulating roads to the finish in Ninove. Add in the power-house Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).

Tim Wellens for UAE

Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) is usually in good form early in the season and he has Nils Politt at his side. Matteo Trentin (Tudor), Søren Wærenskjold and Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Mobility) are also early performers, as is Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel-Premier Tech). Ide Schelling (Astana Qazaqstan) and his teammates Florian Sénéchal and Alexey Lutsenko could also shake things up.

Top outsider – Biniam Girmay

Amongst the outsiders there are Biniam Girmay and Mike Teunissen, both of Intermarché-Wanty, Jordi Meeus and Bob Jungels (BORA-hansgrohe), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Axel Zingle (Cofidis), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education- EasyPost) and Oier Lazkano (Movistar).

van aert
Another Omloop for Wout?

The Favorites:

  • Top: Wout van Aert
  • Second: Christophe Laporte, Arnaud De Lie
  • Possible: Matej Mohoric, Dylan van Baarle, Jasper Philipsen
  • Outside bet: Kasper Asgreen, Tom Pidcock, Stefan Küng, Jonathan Milan.

Bring on the cobbles

Stay PEZ for the race report on Saturday and all the news in EUROTRASH Monday.

# Thanks to WielerFlits and Pro Cycling Stats for the facts and figures. #


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