The time has come for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018. The opening race of the Belgian road calendar is just around the corner and, together with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, completes an intense weekend of racing on Flemish soil. Once known as Het Volk, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a World Tour race since last year and represents the first comparison amongst the Classics specialists. Scheduled for Saturday 24 February, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 will host 25 teams on its starting grid. 17 of these are World teams – Movistar is the only one who gave up – and the remaining 8 are Professional teams. Former Omloop winner Greg van Avermaet is taking part to the first European World Tour race.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 Gold Book
2017 VAN AVERMAET Greg
2016 VAN AVERMAET Greg
2015 STANNARD Ian
2014 STANNARD Ian
2013 PAOLINI Luca
2012 VANMARCKE Sep
2011 LANGEVELD Sebastian
2010 FLECHA Juan Antonio
2009 HUSHOVD Thor
2008 GILBERT Philippe
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 Favourites
The main pretenders
The most notable absence in the starlist is the one of three-times World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), who chose a different path to hit the higher-profile Classics. However, the former winner Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) will take part to this event with the responsibility of striking for the third time in a row the Omloop title. Quick Step Floors will be without a doubt the most competitive team amongst all the ones enrolled. In facts Philippe Gilbert will try to repeat the performances shown over last year Classics and Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert will be near the Belgian with the possibility of playing their part.
Dimension Data will work towards Edvald Boasson Hagen, Ag2r La Mondiale towards Oliver Naesen and Mitchelton-Scott will rely on Matteo Trentin. Also Lotto-Soudal lines up a strong trio made of riders with different inclinations: youngster Tiesj Benoot, Jens Keukeleire and former Vuelta a Andalucia winner Tim Wellens will struggle to blow up the race. Team Sky’s efforts will focus on Dylan van Baarle, EF Education First-Drapac have Sebastian Langeveld but above all Sep Vanmarcke, who finished in third last year, its leaders and Trek-Segafredo counts on Jasper Stuyven and Fabio Felline, who was brilliant in 2017 Omloop.
Do not say I didn’t tell you!
One rider gives rise the most to huge curiosity and undoubted interest: Wout van Aert (Veranda’s Willems). The Cyclo-Cross World Champion is hitting the Spring Classics for the first time over his career and within the last two weeks is trying to project all the work done for one-hour muddy races to 200 kilometers ones. The result he will get at the Omloop won’t be probative of his skills in road races but he will get at least a better idea of what he’s able to target.
Watch out for Astana duo composed of Alexey Lutsenko, who needs to prove his competitiveness on the cobblestones, and Oscar Gatto, who has the support of further experience in the Classics. In the absence of Peter Sagan Daniel Oss and Marcus Burghardt will presumably share the lead of the German squad. The same will do in all likelihood Marco Marcato and Simone Consonni for UAE Team Emirates and Johann Offredo and Guillaume van Keirsbulck for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. In closing, also Floris Gerts (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) can have a say.
Don’t call them sprinters
The title is indicative of the substance this kind of riders are made of. Because it’s difficult to define someone like Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) simply as a sprinter: the Italian showed last year to be competitive on these roads and, throughout this spring, he has to prove that he can be a clear contender. Arnaud Demare (FDJ), instead, has already won a Monument – 2016 Milano-Sanremo – and it is well respected inside the peloton but still needs to improve himself when the road goes up. It will be interesting to observe what kind of performance Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors) will be able to offer.
Sacha Modolo’s sixth place in 2017 Ronde van Vlaanderen changed his mind and the EF Education First-Drapac rider is ready to test himself as a Classics hunter rather than just as a sprinter. Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) is on the rebound after having spotted two podiums at Milano-Sanremo and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) is going to test himself with the cobblestones, seeking for a Classics season brilliant as the last one. To Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) is set aside the role of outsiders.