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    Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Live – the Classics stars show their hands

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    That’s one Omloop Het Nieuwsblad done, but a reminder that there’s still a lot of racing to be done in the women’s race. A reminder that you can follow that here

    Politt knew after only a few pedal strokes that he didn’t have the legs to beat Tratnik in the sprint. He’s come close before to a major classics victory, including 2nd at Paris-Roubaix five years ago, but for now it has eluded him again. 

    NINOVE BELGIUM FEBRUARY 24 Jan Tratnik of Slovenia and Team Visma Lease A Bike celebrates at finish line as race winner during the 79th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2024 Mens Elite a 2022km one day race from Ghent to Ninove UCIWT on February 24 2024 in Ninove Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Tratnik has just agreed with the post race interviewer’s suggestion that this goes down as the biggest win of his career. Such a result has been a long-time coming for Tratnik (who turned 34 yesterday), especially in recent years where he has looked better and better. Slovenia’s cycling supremacy continues. 

    So it’s a Visma | Lease a Bike rider who won the race after all, but not any of the three who made what had initially appeared to be the decisive 6-man selection. It must be disheartening from the other teams’ perspective to do all that work to turn around such an advantageous situation for Visma, only to lose to another one of their riders.  

    Politt decided to go all in rather than play games, perhaps believing he had the beating of Tratnik in a sprint. But ultimately the German was too spent by the line, and Tratnik ran out comfortable victor.

    Wout van Aert appeared to win the sprint from the peloton for third-place. 

    …and it’s Tratnik! The Slovenian wins as Politt sits up

    The peloton are out of it, its down to these two…

    Tratnik’s getting a free ride, can he make the most of it?

    Politt leads Tratnik inside the final kilometre.

    Still it’s Lotto-Dstny leading, and they’re beginning to make inroads. 12 seconds as the flamme rouge approaches.

    It’s not coming down quick enough just yet. Still 17 seconds with 2.5km to go.

    4KM TO GO

    4km to go, the duo’s lead is 17seconds. Looks like this could go down to the wire…

    Uno-X are joining Lotto in the chase. This group has considerable firepower. It’ll be hard for Politt and Tratnik to hang on, but they are both very powerful rouleurs. 

    Lotto-Dstny have taken control of the chasing group. They fancy De Lie’s chances if they can bring the duo back to force a sprint. 

    They will have to catch Politt and Tratnik, however. With 7km to go, their lead is 18 seconds.

    Plenty of riders we haven’t mentioned all day will be in it, and are suddenly in contention for victory.

    Now more riders led by De Lie and some Lotto Dstny teammates have joined the group behind Politt and Tratnik, doubling it in size.

    Tratnik and Politt have a gap, and there’s hesitation in the chase. Tratnik has the advanatge of having Jorgsenon, Van Aert and Laporte in the group.

    Visma’s Tratnik is one of the riders from the peloton to have bridged up, and now he attacks, with Nils Politt.

    10KM TO GO

    It’s really messy as they enter the final 10km. Wellens is the latest to accelerate, and has a small gap.

    Now, we have a group of about 14 riders at the front, including Jorgsenon, the chasers, and a few from the peloton

    Movistar’s Ivan Garcia led the chase from the peloton, and went clear with a few othes on the Bosberg.

    In fact it might all come back together. Jorgsenon is being caught by the chasers, who are being caught by the peloton.

    The peloton are still in this! There are still about 20 riders in it, and they’re catching the chasrers.

    The gap to Jorgenson is coming down. The chasers can see him, and he’s only got 10 seconds on them as he starts the final climb, the Bosberg. 

    Wellens is now leading that quintet. He’s clearly on a flyer and fancies his chances, if he can catch Jorgenson.

    It’s 13 seconds for Jorgenson. Skujiņš, Laporte, Van Aert and De Lie are behind, and have been joined by Wellens.

    Jorgenson is still out in front though, we’ll know his advantage shortly.

    De Lie is leading the chasers. He reaches the top, with Van Aert, Laporte with him.

    Wellens has attacked from the peloton and is catching them up

    And now the peloton are closing down on the chasers! It seems they weren’t as far behind as we thought.

    Pidcock is the first of the chasers to be dropped.

    Here comes Jorgensen onto the Muur! His lead is 21 seconds.

    Tom Pidcock

    The leading sextet earlier today (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Jorgensen has settled into a streamlined ITT position, and has a lead of 15 seconds. How big will his lead be by the foot of the Muur?

    This could even be the race-winning move. The onus is on Skujiņš, Pidcock and De Lie to chase them, while Van Aert and Laporte will sit on them – that’s not the kind of scenario that usually leads to a catch being made. 

    21KM TO GO

    Attack by Jorgensen in the lead group, and it’s a clever one! He’s caught them off guard and has a big lead already.

    It must be especially galling to go down after their chances for victory were essentially overall already.

    Their former teammate Florian Sénéchal was also involved. Nobody looks seriosuly hurt, and are back on their feet, but their races are over.

    Crash in the peloton, where it appears a bollard has been hit. Alaphilippe is down, along with his teammate Asgreen.

    The Visma riders are still taking it in turns to attack the rest of the group, but none of the moves yet have been fully committed, and the 6 remain together – for now. 

    25KM TO GO

    Less than 10km to go now until the Muur! This is always one of the sights of the season, and will be packed with cheering fans. 

    There’s now a stretch without any climbs until the iconic Muur. Visma | Lease a Bike seem eager to split the group up prior to that – Laporte ha attacked, forcing the others to close him down.

    It’s all back together out front, with Skujiņš brought back and Pidcock back on. The Latvian is looking very strong though, while victory appears unlikely for Pidcock unless that was an outlandish bluff. 

    Meanwhile in the peloton, more problems for Alaphilippe as he stops for another bike change.

    He’s got a gap as they go over the top, while Pidcock has been distenced by the other four.

    Attack by Skujiņš as the leaders climb Berendries, and it’s a big one!

    30KM TO GO

    Teunissen has been caught by the peloton, now being led by UAE Team Emirates. Their deficit is at a now surely-unbridgeable 1-15.

    Alaphilippe is dangling at the back of the peloton, clearly on a bad day. It appears he may have crashed earlier, or at least have had a mechanical – he isn’t on the bike he started the race on.

    Back in the peloton, Intermarche’s Mike Teunissen has attacked. That suggests their leader Biniam Girmay isn’t on a great day, otherwise you’d expect Teunissen help lead the chase for him.

    A bold move from De Lie as the leaders climb the Leberg, as he moves to the front and makes the pace. Jorgensen is at the back, but has not been dropped.

    The riders are now on the Haaghoek flat cobbled stretch for the third and final time today. After this will come five more cobbled climbs.

    Of course, just because Visma | Lease a Bike have such a numerical advantage in the lead group doesn’t necessarily mean they will take the victory – as anyone who remembers the famous 2015 edition of this race, when Ian Stannard somehow got the better of three QuickStep teammates to take the win.

    That effort by Küng succeeded in putting the rest of the peloton under pressure, but barely made a dent in the deficit. There’s now no organised chase happening, with Campanaerts among riders making attacks rather than working together. 

    40KM TO GO

    The peloton has at least succeeded in bring back the other chasers. Only the 6 leaders now remain out ahead of the peloton, but they have a sizable lead of 55 seconds. 

    A big turn from Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Kung now in the peloton. They’re getting a bit desperate now, and look unlikely to bring the leaders back.

    Laporte and Pidcock have gone clear on the climb, but an acceleration from Skujiņš brings the other four back. 

    The riders are on the Molenberg now, one of the nastier climbs of the race. Ineos are leading the peloton, who are now about one minute adrift.

    Lidl-Trek clearly don’t fancy Skujiņš’ chances in the lead group. Their rider Tim Declercq is leading the chase in the group behind the leaders. 

    Laporte leads the leaders on the flat cobbled sector of Jagerij. There are still six climbs to come, including the familiar final double of the Muur and the Bosberg.

    This is all looking very good for Visma | Lease a Bike. All Pidcock, De Lie and Skujiņš can hope it to try to hang on.

    Most of the rest of the break remain together in between the leaders and the peloton. Moscon has just dropped back into it, while Lidl-Trek and Alpecin dig deep to try to drag them back to the leaders. 

    The peloton is now being reported as 38 seconds behind the leading six, with a number of riders dropped from the break in-between. Groupama-FDJ are still doing the lion’s share of the work. 

    Now Moscon’s been dropped, leaving just Van Aert, Laporte, Jorgensen, De Lie, Pidcock and Skujiņš in the lead group.

    The leaders are now on the Kerkgate flat cobbled sector, and Moscon is the latest to struggle to hang on to the searing pace set by Visma.

    50KM TO GO

    Despite having Moscon make the selection, Asgreen is leading the chase among those dropped. 

    Those three Visma riders have now gone clear with just a handful of the other escapees with them – Pidcock, De Lie, Skujiņš and Moscon.

    Jorgensen has teammates Van Aert and Laporte with him, and the other teams are struggling to hang onto them.

    In response, Jorgensen has laid the hammer down on the Wolvenerg, and the lead group is splitting into pieces.

    Visma | Lease a Bike lead both the front group and the peloton as each group turns into a tight corner. The latter was a blocking manoeuvre, but their attempts to slow the group down appear to be in vain as the deficit has come down significantly – the peloton almost has them in sight.

    60KM TO GO

    The next climb is the Wolvenberg, in about 6km’s time. The peloton are beginning to make some progress, reducing the gap to under 40 seconds, but still have lots of work to do.

    As European champion, Christophe Laporte might not be adorned in the yellow of the rest of his Visma | Lease a Bike teammates, but his presence in the lead group along with Van Aert has already given them a big advantage today.

    Christophe Laporte

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Moscon hasn’t split the group at all though, and the group reaches the top of the climb together. 

    The leaders are now on the Valkenberg, and Moscon attacks.!

    All the action has seen the peloton already notably reduced. There doesn’t appear to be much more than 70 riders left in it.

    Intermarché – Wanty and EF Education-EasyPost are other teams joining Grouapam-FDJ in the chase, but they aren’t making inroads just yet. The gap remains about the same, at 47 seconds. 

    More riders from the origianl break have now dropped out of the lead group, including Boven and Moro. There are now 28 riders left in it.

    70KM TO GO

    With 70km to go, the gap is now 50 seconds. Groupama-FDJ are currently pulling the chase in the peloton, as one of the major teams to miss out.

    Crashin the peloton, on a narrow road. Nobody seems badly hurt but it’s slowed down the chase. 

    75KM TO GO

    The next climb is approaching in a few kilometres: the Hostellerie. From this climb on, there’s barely any let up.

    Luke Rowe

    The lead group on the cobbles (Image credit: Getty Images)

    80KM TO GO

    The lead group is still mostly intact, minus Affini following his puncture, and Van Rooy, who was dropped. The peloton are still adrift, by about 40 seconds. 

    Meanwhile, over on the other side of the world, stage six of the UAE Tour has finished. You can read about what happened here.

    A blow for Visma | Lease a Bike as Affini has a mechanical. That leaves them with four in the lead group.

    The gap between the groups has steadied, but is still very catchable, at about 30 seconds. We might even see some riders break out of the peloton to try to bridge it themselves.

    90KM TO GO

    The lead group remained intact over the Kattenberg, but that will surely change over the upcoming climbs. Next up is the Leberg again, in a few minutes.

    Wout van Aert

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Visma | Lease a Bike are the best-represented team in the lead group with five riders. It’s only the first classic of the spring, but the Dutch squad are already intimidating everone with their strength. 

    It’s been all-action already, and we’re only now entering the climbing section of the race! The lead group are now on the Kattenberg, after which the bergs come thick and fast.

    Peloton

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    100KM TO GO

    This might not be quite so over for the peloton as it had been appearing. Momentum is reversing and the gap between the two groups is now coming down, back to under a minute.

    Peloton

    The front group in echelon formation (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Don’t forget to also follow our live coverage of the women’s Het Nieuwsblad this afternoon. That’s set to get underway imminently.

    Most of the riders in the lead group have teammates with them, which appears to be doing wonders to their cohesion. This could already be it for every rider who missed out on the split.

    110KM TO GO

    Those 23 riders have now caught the original break, forming a new 32-man lead group. They’re nearly 1-30 ahead of the peloton.

    Here’s a full run-down of the 23-man escape group:

    Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot, Matteo Jorgensen, Edoardo Affini (all Visma | Lease a Bike), Tom Pidcock, Luke Rowe, Ben Turner, Connor Swift (all Ineos Grenadiers), Jonathan Milan, Toms Skujiņš, Alex Kirsch, Tim Declercq (all Lidl-Trek), Jasper Philipsen, Michael Gogl (both Alpecin-Deceuninck), Kasper Asgreen, Gianni Moscon (both Soudal-QuickStep), Arnaud De Lie, Jasper De Buyst (both Lotto-Dstny), Krists Neilands, Riley Pickrell (both Israel-Premier Tech) Kenneth Van Rooy (Bingoal-WB) and Stian Fredheim (Uno-X Mobility).

    A reminder that this split happened on a flat, seemingly innocuous stretch of road. The next climb, the Kattenberg, still isn’t for another 15km.

    This group is now closing in on the original break, which is now a mere 30 seconds up the road They must have expected their day in the spotlight to last longer than this.

    115KM TO GO

    This is becoming a serious situation – the gap between the two pelotons is now over a minute! In fact we shouldn’t really be calling this a ‘peloton’ any more – it’s a group of favourites, with 23 men in it.

    Among the riders to have missed the split are Van Baarle, Alaphilippe, Biniam Girmay, Florian Sénéchal, Matej Mohorič, Stefan Küng and Jasper Stuyven.

    Here is that group that’s gone clear from the rest of the peloton. It’s about 23 riders big, and is being led here by Ineos’ Luke Rowe.

    Luke Rowe

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    The riders in the first peloton include: Van Aert, Laporte, Benoot (but not Van Baarle) of Visma | Lease a Bike, Asgreen of Soudal-QuickStep (but not Alaphilippe), Pidcock, Philipsen, De Lie, plus sprinter Jonathan Milan.

    Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) had made the split, but a puncture has put him back out of the group. 

    Visma | Lease a Bike, Alpecin-Deceuninck, Lidl-Trek and Ineos Grenaiders look well-represented in the front peloton, while Lotto Dstny’s Arnaud De Lie is also there, but other favourites have been caught the wrong side of the split.

    Even more interestingly, there’s also been a split in the peloton, with about ten seconds separating them. 

    130KM TO GO

    Things appear to be starting to kick off in the peloton. The pace is well up, with the deficit to the leaders plummeting to about 2-20.

    Soudal-QuickStep’s long reign as king of the classics appears to be over, but they remain a force to be reckoned with. All eyes will be on Julian Alaphilippe in the aftermath of Patrick Lefevere recent public criticisms, while Kasper Asgreen and Yves Lampaert will be similarly eager to return to their best form after a relatively underwhelming spring campaign last year. 

    That said, even in their heyday Het Nieuwsblad was not a race Soudal-QuickStep excelled in, not winning a single edition between 2006 – 2018.

    Peloton

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    140KM TO GO

    Not a lot happening out on the road at present. The gap is holding steady between four and five minutes, as the riders make the lengthy transition to the next climb.

    Regarding Alpecin’s approach today, it’s interesting that their rider Boven is among the day’s breakaway riders. The 22-year-old has had some good results lately, including top finishes in sprints at Volta ao Algarve and the Tour Down Under, and could play a key role should the peloton already be breaking up the time the break is caught.

    One of the teams hoping to stop them are Alpecin-Deceuninck. That will be a tall order without their star Mathieu van der Poel, who, it was confirmed today, will delay the start of his road season until Milan-Sanremo. But many of their other classics squad are beginning their 2024 seasons here – including Jasper Philipsen, of whom much is expected in the classics this year following his surprise podium finish at Paris-Roubaix at the end of last year’s campaign.

    Wout van Aert is present for Visma | Lease a Bike, and has already made a winning start to the season with a stage win at the Volta ao Algarve – even if he was uncharacteristically off the pace in the time trial. 

    He’s just one of several options the team have, however, with both Christophe Laporte and defending champion Dylan Van Baarle making their first start of the season, and even Tiesj Benoot, the in-form Jan Tratnik and new signing Matteo Jorgenson (today making his debut for the team) all also potential winners. Other teams will have their hands full trying to cover all of them when the attacks inevitably come later today.

    Visma | Lease a Bike

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Here’s the peloton on the cobbles, beaing led by Visma | Lease a Bike. They’re clearly the strongest team on paper, and are hot favourites for victory, but are taking it easy for now as the gap to the leading nine grows to nearly five minutes. 

    There’s been a first crash of the day, with Rui Oliveira going down, but the UAE Team Emirates has since made his way back into the peloton. 

    Alexis Gougeard

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    The sight we’re all here to see – riders climbing on cobblestones! It’s a while before the next berg, however, which will be the Kattenberg 98km from the finish, but the Leberg was a teasing taster.

    160KM TO GO

    The break has made it to the top of the Leberg, with a healthy lead of over four and a half minutes on the peloton. 

    Julian Alaphilippe

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Here’s Julian Alaphilippe receiving a push from Soudal-QuickStep DS Tom Steels following a mechanical earlier today. He’s had his fair share of bad luck over the last couple of years, particularly with crashes and injuries, and will be hoping this is his bad luck for the day out the way with, as he hopes to reassert himself as a top classics contender. 

    The break has gone through the first cobbled sector of Haaghoek unscathed, and are now approaching the Leberg climb.

    Here’s a full run-down of the nine-man break:

    Samuel Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan), Lars Boven (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Sean Flynn, Frank van den Broek (both dsm-firmenich PostNL), Manilo Moro (Movistar), Alexis Gougeard (Cofidis), Sander De Pestel (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale), Elias Maris (Team Flanders-Baloise) and Jelle Vermoote (Bingoal WB).

    170KM TO GO

    The break are approaching the first, brief, cobbled sector of the day. 

    We have our first abandon of the day, with dsm’s Bram Welten calling it a day.

    A first look at our nine-man break of the day. It’s visibly quite cold out there, but, mercifully, not raining. 

    Lars Boven

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Of course, today is all about cobblestones, and the short, steep cobbled ‘bergs’ that are to be climbed. In total there will be twelve climbs, mostly packed inside the second half of the race – but the first, the Leberg, isn’t too far away, coming 163km from the finish.

    180KM TO GO

    The gap is up to over one minute, and it appears this nine-man group will indeed be the break of the day.

    Wout van Aert

    Arnaud De Lie, Wout van Aert and European champion Christophe Laporte at the start (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Of the riders in the break, Battistella is the stand-out name. The Astana rider was up there in the late-season Italian classics last autumn, and came memorably close to winning a stage at the 2022 Vuelta a España. He’s the kind of rider who might be able to stay with some of the favourites for some time once they inevitably catch the break.

    190KM TO GO

    That’s a big group, and their lead is growing. It’s now up to over 50 seconds, indicating it could be the break of the day.

    They’ve been joined by five more riders: Lars Boven, Elias Maris, Sean Flynn, Sander De Pestel and Alexis Gougeard.

    Four early attackers have got up the road and have a lead approaching half a minute: Jelle Vermote, Manilo Moro, Frank Van den Broek and Samuele Battistella.

    One rider on the start list has had to pull out at the last minute – Cofidis’ Piet Allegaert. 

    202KM TO GO

    And they’re off! Which riders will try and form an early break?

    As you can see from the photo below, it’s a cold day over in Belgium. Het Nieuwsblad wouldn’t be Het Nieuwsblad without the sight of uncomfortable riders trying to dress up warm!

    Tom Pidcock

    The peloton sets off from the unofficial start (Image credit: Getty Images)

    For those who don’t believe the season only starts at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the action continues at both the UAE Tour and O Gran Camiño today. Yesterday, was a great one for Visma | Lease a Bike, with Olav Kooij breaking Tim Merlier unbeaten streak in the sprints to claim victory in the former, and Jonas Vingegaard taking his first victory of the season at stage two of the latter.

    Here we go, the riders have set off from the unofficial start. They’ll make their way through the neutralised zone for about quarter of an hour, before beginning the 202km course.

    The team everyone has their eye on is Visma | Lease a Bike, whose line-up features defending champion Dylan van Baarle, podium finisher from last year Christope Laporte, and 2022 winner Wout van Aert. Here they were at the race’s flashy presentation.

    Visma | Lease a Bike

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    They won’t have too long to wait now – they will set off into the neutralised zone in about ten minutes, at 11:00 local time.

    Despite its reputation as the season opener, most favourites here have in fact already raced elsewhere this season, with only some (notably Jasper Philipsen, Dylan van Baarle and Christophe Laporte) making their 2024 bow here. With the off-season rust shaken off, most will be at a competitive level already and raring to go.

    Welcome especially to the traditionalists, logging into our race coverage for the first time since Il Lombardia last autumn. For many, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is where the season really begins, with everything preceding it a mere trifle. 

    As action-packed and entertaining as the early-season racing has been, it’s a sentiment that’s still understandable despite the modern, international calendar. There’s nothing quite like the cobbled classics, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is raced with an intensity that none of the preceding races can match.

    Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews’ live coverage of the 2024 men’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

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