Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Preview

The opening weekend.


Look at this. The best profile out there.

As I said the other day on X, the finale starts at Wolvenberg.

I will show you the most important climbs and parts but the deep-dive happens in the “how does the race unfold” section. First up, Wolvenberg. Not cobbled, yet narrow. It is an excellent point to make a front block after a teammate has attacked.

If you ask me, Molenberg is one of the climbs that gets the heart rate going. The speed goes up and up before the sharp left turn on to the cobbles.

Following Molenberg, the riders are on small roads. First Leberg which can be used as a “catch-them-out-of-position” move. But, I think Berendries is much more important a creates a more important selection.

Short descend over the top before a left turn unto the small roads again. Then the Elverenberg – Vossenhol right after. No time to catch your breath. The chase gets organized, approximately 10 km of flat before the riders reach Geeredsbergen and the Muur-Kapelmuur. The steep bit is one of the most iconic parts of the classics season.

Then a group is formed usually, or all the riders are split all over the road. It gets back together or a group can stay away. It is also an underrated place to make a move if everyone and everything is still together. People go for a snack or a drink, that is how Van Aert won in 2023. Because up the road is the Bosberg on the cobbles.

This is the road home.


Windy and cold. It should stay dry. The wind will come mainly from SW, S with an average of 23 km/h (6-7 m/s) and that is enough for splits in Belgium. Note, the main part from Wolvenberg to the line is a tailwind/crosstailwind.


We look for the yellow and lime sections. Between Valkenberg and Wolvenberg (65 km – 52 km left) is where you really want to stay at the front. Then, from Haaghoek to the finish line (35 km – 0 km left) is with shifting crosswind/tailwind to the line.

How will the race unfold?

So, to understand the dynamics you have to look at prior years. Both in 2022 and 2023, Visma have dominated the outcome and they will do so again. Here is a brief summary of the 2022 edition.

First big move was on Leberg with 36 km left. Mohoric, Trentin, Van Keirsbulck and Schelling get a gap. Visma are not happy with this and does a team attack on Berendries with 31 km left. Now, the main move is Wout, Benoot, Pidcock, Narvaez and Colbrelli. They eventually catch the breakaway before Benoot goes away solo on the flat section between Elverenberg – Vossenhol and the Muur. He is caught more or less at the top of the Muur and everything is back together. When everyone looks around, drinking and gathering energy, Wout van Aert attacks between the Muur and Bosberg and winning solo.

In the 2023 edition, we had splits in the peloton that in the end did not matter. Everything was back together before Wolvenberg. Küng got up the road fairly early, just after the mentioned climb. We have a strong move on Molenberg with Laporte, De Lie, Wellens and Pidcock, they catch up to Küng. On Haaghoek/Leberg we see Van Baarle, Milan, F. Veermerch and Le Berre (from the breakaway) get away. Stuyven and Geniets tries to counter but in vain. Van Baarle goes solo before the Muur and solos. In the peloton, Wellens, De Lie, Laporte, Mohoric and Küng are the strongest with the first four mentioned getting caught in the sprint.

So how does Visma play it? A few rules can be made. 1) If they miss a move, they launch for a double-attack at the next hill or sector. That is the 2022 tactic. 2) If they don’t fancy the composition, they will bring it back despite having a rider out front. They really play for the numerical advantage. That was the 2023 plan.

I think they will stick to those two rules. If they don’t like the composition out front, they will shuffle the deck. Everyone is playing against the house, and usually the house wins.


Van Baarle – last year’s winner deserves the top spot. He was used the best way possible, to attack when the other riders least expected it. He must be used the same way again, on the flat sections in between. If not, he will be a gap closer if they don’t fancy the situation.

Van Aert – big favorite. In 2022 he held back so they didn’t catch Benoot, I’m fairly certain. He proved many times in 2023 that he is superior to the rest here when it comes to the cobbled climbs, when Pogacar and Van der Poel is not starting. It is all about playing his cards right and not having to sprint against De Lie. And that may cost him the win in the end, being marked by one of the best riders here.

Christophe Laporte – can he follow the best up the Muur? No. Does he beat more or less anyone in a sprint, if you remove De Lie from the equation? Yes. I think he works well as a leader, a protected rider. He can’t wait for the last two climbs, unless he is being used to reel in a very strong move.

Jan Tratnik – where to start with his season. He is just off the charts. I would highly recommend having him attack as early as possible, he really fits the Van Baarle move from 2023 or the Benoot of 2022. He is climbing better than I’ve ever seen before. I have praised him before and even had him as a winner for Amstel Gold race in 2023. He has what it takes and riding for Visma increases his chances a whole lot.

Matteo Jorgensen – new team. I expect the Laporte-effect right away. He has started 2022 and 2023 off in form, and now with Visma you add another level. I think his best sectors are the climbs, Berendris looks like a very good place for him. He has to win solo, doesn’t he. It works with a “weak” group up front with him where he is confident he can distance them or with one of the team’s sprinters.

Mohoric – often one of the best here. He has to take some chances because he can’t follow all of the moves. It is about listening on the radio and assessing the situation. I doubt they read this preview but he has to go for the two rules and see what suits him best.

De Lie – Lotto-Dstny, if you keep sending riders with decoys you have no man left to chase. Do I need to remind you that you may actually have one of the favorites here? It is the best option. Man-man Laporte and Wout van Aert, trust your team and the other teams they will help reel in the likes of Tratnik.

Küng – always good here. He has tried many different tactics. Waiting for the Muur or going away early. His sprint doesn’t help him, meaning he has to take chances like Mohoric. I think he should follow the attackers of Visma but not go to deep. Otherwise, you burn your matches.

Pidcock – form is good, and he did look strong here in 2023. He knows how to position himself and read the race. How much does he trust his sprint? I don’t think he fancies a head to head with Wout or De Lie. If he plays everything right, he may just end on the podium.

Wellens – always going well here and always eager to follow moves and contribute. He is one of the best on the Muur but he will not win by going for the sprint. He rarely does, he will hope to improve from 25th last year – his effort deserved more. So is cycling sometimes.

Who will win?

Visma-Lab should win this. The best way to do so is this: Keep attacking with Laporte+Jorgensen and Wout+Tratnik. Use the less quick rider to attack, tire out De Lie. Or, send the solos ahead and hope they are happy with the group. I like the second option more, attack between sectors.

I will take a solo win for Jan Tratnik. I think he is the least marked man tomorrow for the bees.

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