Home > News

Visma-Lease a Bike earns natural hat trick of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad wins

Jan Tratnik is the first Slovenian victor

Photo by: Sirotti

For the third consecutive season, Visma-Lease a Bike has won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and they’ve done it via three different riders. Jan Tratnik became the first Slovenian victor in Saturday’s entertaining start to the Belgian season and the first European race on the World Tour. It’s the biggest triumph of Tratnik’s career. In his first Omloop, Canada’s Riley Pickrell came in 61st.

The Course

Over 208 km, the route offered up eight sectors of cobbles, nine climbs and two cobbled climbs, the most important of which was the Muur van Geraardsbergen/Kapelmuur (1 km of 9.2 percent) that came with 16.5 km to go. Four kilometres after the Muur was the Bosberg climb (1 km of 5.8%). There were sections of stiff wind, and it was a day for arm warmers and vests.

On Friday, Israel-Premier Tech announced that Guillaume Boivin, named to the team on Thursday, was to be replaced by another Canadian, Riley Pickrell. Both Pickrell and Derek Gee were racing their first OHN.

The first breakaway, forming soon after the flag went down in Gent, was a nontet that rumbled over the first cobbles of Haaghoek and the first climb of Leberg. The peloton split at the 72 km mark, and Pickrell was one of 23 riders in the first half, which also contained Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte, Tom Pidcock and Arnaud De Lie. The van Aert group sopped up the breakaway 20 km later. With 85 km to go, Gee was involved in a crash in the chase group and had to abandon.

With 70 km to go, the 27-strong van Aert bunch was under a minute ahead of the bulk of the peloton, where Groupama-FDJ toiled at the front. Soudal-QuickStep couldn’t make a selection on the Valkenberg.

Pickrell near the front with 56 km to go.

Visma pushed on the Wolvenberg and whittled down the front group to 7. Van Aert had Laporte and Matteo Jorgenson for teammates. Pidcock and De Lie made it as well. Gianni Moscon couldn’t hang and there was a six-pack up the road.

By the Molenberg, the peloton had absorbed the Pickrell chase. By the third passage of the Leberg, it was clear that the winner would come from Pidcock, De Lie, Jorgenson, van Aert, Laporte and Toms Skujiņš. Skujiņš attacked on the fourth-to-last climb Berendries; Pidcock seemed to have the most trouble making it back.

Clad in the white European champion’s jersey, Laporte dashed away on the Elverenberg-Vossenhol, with Skujiņš in pursuit. After the sextet reformed, van Aert tested the others. The Muur loomed over the race and Visma continued to alternate digs.

Julian Alaphilippe crashed with a teammate and ex-teammate in the bollards and hollered in frustration.

With 21 km remaining and his breakmates gulping their gels, Jorgenson attacked from the back. The task of bringing him back was up to Skujiņš, De Lie and Pidcock. The American hit the foot of the Muur with a 17-second lead. Incredibly, the chasers started to reach van Aert and company on the Muur.

Jorgenson finishes the Muur.

Tim Wellens had bridged from the peloton. Jorgenson drew closer with the Bosberg on the horizon. He held 10 seconds when he began the final climb. It all came together on the Bosberg and several more riders from the peloton joined up.

Van Aert surged to make sure the group didn’t get too big, limiting it to a dozen. Visma’s Jan Tratnik tried his luck with 9 km to go, Nils Politt grabbing his wheel. The van Aert group swelled. The Slovenian-German duo at the business end of the race had 17 seconds going into the final 5 km, Lotto-Dstny working to yank it back.

Politt led under the red kite but he had no answer to Tratnik’s sprint. Van Aert rounded out the podium.

Next Saturday is Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice begins next Sunday.

2024 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
1) Jan Tratnik (Slovenia/Visma-Lease a Bike) 4:31:27
2) Nils Politt (Germany/UAE-Emirates) +0:03
3) Wout van Aert (Belgium/Lease a Bike) +0:08
61) Riley Pickrell (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +4:06