We all know Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are likely to play a role in the final. But even those two can’t duplicate themselves and fill the top 20 on their own. Who else to watch besides the usual suspects? You read it here.
1. Rui Oliveira, he is on my list because he did very good in Gent – Wevelgem. Results dont show it because he crashed in the final but when that happened he already placed himself in an elite group. One of the big surprises for me that day in a really tough edition of Gent – Wevelgem. Maybe he has to work for Alexander Kristoff but if not I am sure we will see him ride with the best.
2. Maximilian Schachmann, strong allrounder he can definetly play a role if he is in good form. A bit of a questionmark because he didn’t even finish LBL but 9th in Worlds is a good sign. No Sagan to work for, I am looking forward to see what this man can do in his first edition.
3. Tiesj Benoot, real Flandrien. He might not be on everyones list because he had to skip Gent – Wevelgem because he was in contact with Covid – positive Jan Bakelants. But his form is really good, did a really good Worlds working for Wout van Aert, 8th in LBL. Definetly an outsider to watch, even for the podium.
4. Johan Jacobs, young talent that will get all the freedom at Movistar for this race. It will be a learning experience for him but that doesn’t necessarily mean without result. Ask Kasper Asgreen who became 2nd in his first edition.
5. Romain Bardet, just like Schachmann its his first edition. He seems a bit light for the cobbles but that didn’t hold Romain back in Paris – Tours either. We have already seen with Alejandro Valverde in the past climbers can do well in this race. He has a strong team but maybe he will have to work for Oliver Naesen.
6. Gianni Vermeersch, domestique for Mathieu van der Poel but he is in great form. With most of the teams having multiple cards to play Mathieu can’t react to everything which might put Vermeersch in a good position to go for his own result if he can go with the right group. Don’t see him winning but in 243k everything a lot can happen.
Who are your outsiders for a top 10?