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.

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 and Arnaud De Lie) 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 Cycling News’ live coverage of the 2024 men’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.