Omloop Het Nieuwsblad men 2024: who will win?

Rouleur looks at the top contenders for the first cobbled Classics of the season

The time has finally come for the WorldTour to move away from the sunny climes of the Middle East and Australia and instead embrace the moody February skies of Belgium for the arrival of Opening Weekend. The first race on Saturday February 24, 2024, is Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which starts in Ghent and finishes in Ninove, traversing the region’s famous cobbles and iconic double-digit gradient climbs. 

It always attracts a stellar lineup of riders, and this year’s race is certainly no exception. Last year’s champion, Dylan van Baarle (Visma-Lease a Bike), will again be on the start line, looking to take victory in the 202km-long race for a second year with his Dutch team. However, the 2022 winner and all-round powerhouse Wout van Aert will most likely be the rider whom Visma will be working for. Van Aert missed last year’s race as he made his 2023 debut at Strade Bianche, but this year, he is back and will be looking to set the tone for the rest of his Classics campaign. He has already proven to be in winning form, having taken a stage win at Volta ao Algarve earlier this month and had a successful winter on the cyclo-cross bike, so it is hard not to imagine Van Aert being a strong contender for the first official Classics race of the season. However, even seemingly unstoppable riders can have a bad day, and if Van Aert is for some reason not in the position to win, Visma-Lease a Bike has a number of riders they could send up the road in the form of Van Baarle, Tiesj Benoot, Christophe Laporte, Jan Tratnik, and Matteo Jorgenson. 

Arnaud De Lie came second in last year's race (Getty Images)

However, one rider, in particular, will be hungry for the win – last year’s second-place finisher, Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny). His powerful performance, especially up the Muur van Geraardsbergen, demonstrated his potential in the Classics and he continued to impress with several strong finishes throughout the season, even taking the win at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec. Despite a number of good results, he has yet to beat Van Aert when head-to-head, so this may throw a spanner in the works for the 21-year-old rider. 

Another rider with fast legs who could be a potential winner of this race is Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck). While he has proven to be one of the fastest men in the WorldTour peloton, having claimed four Tour de France stage victories in 2023, he’s also demonstrated that he can be dangerous on the cobbles, too, as evidenced by his second place at Paris-Roubaix and Classic Brugge-De Panne win last year. Philipsen has never had an excellent result in Omloop, coming 124th, 37th and 33rd, but he is coming into this season with his best year to date behind him. He’ll be on the start line with his teammates and strong Classics riders, Gianni Vermeersh and Søren Kragh Andersen, who could also be contenders for the title.

Jasper Philipsen has proven he can be dangerous on the cobbles, placing second in Paris-Roubaix in 2023 (

Looking beyond those with a fast finishing punch, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) will be one of the favourites for this race. He will suit this type of terrain with the punchy climbs and cobbled sections and could be a real contender if he can get into the break or make a solo attack. He came fifth in last year’s edition and followed this up with a win at Strade Bianche and podium spots in both Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Brit has already made his 2024 debut in Portugal, the same race he kicked things off with last year. The only difference this year is that he hasn’t raced as much over the winter on his ‘cross bike compared to previous years, so this may give him the edge going into this race.

The same goes for riders such as Matej Mohorič and Fred Wright from Bahrain-Victorious. Both riders are strong on the bergs and could be contenders if they can get up the road. Wright proved last year how strong a contender he was on the Flemish cobbles with an eighth place finish in the Tour of Flanders. Mohorič has always put in a strong performance in the Classics, and last year, he came 21st in Omloop and followed it up with a third-place finish the day after in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Something that will boost his confidence going into the race is that the Slovenian already has a win under his belt, so there’s potential for him to deliver a good result. 

Biniam Girmay will be hoping for a better Classics campaign this year (

After his Gent-Wevelgem victory and Giro d’Italia stage win in 2022, we expected Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) to follow up his successful season with an even better one. However, what followed was not what everyone expected, as a crash during the Tour of Flanders put him out of racing for two months, and struggled to re-establish himself fully for the rest of the season. He opened this year in Australia, where he looked to be in good form with two podium spots at the Tour Down Under and a win in the Surf Coast Classic. He can excel on this type of terrain, and we hope to see a glimpse of the 2022 Girmay again.

Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) is another possible contender having targeted the cobbles over the Ardennes in the past couple of years, as could Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal–Quick-Step), who not long ago looked a serious contender at the Tour of Flanders. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Alex Zingle (Cofidis), and Ramus Tiller (Uno-X Mobility) are also possible shouts at a victory if things play out in their favour. It’s a stacked list of talent for the first race of the Opening Weekend, that is for sure, and there are a number of contenders who will want to claim an early season win. But, it is safe to say that the competition will be keeping their eyes on those in black and yellow. So, while everyone is looking one way, can someone take advantage? 


We think the young powerhouse Arnaud De Lie will win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He’s been training specifically for the upcoming Flemish races, and with the power we saw last year, we have a strong feeling he’ll be able to top the podium this year. 

*Cover image by

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