Disgraced former rider Armstrong, a winner of seven Tours de France before he was banned from the sport for doping, has shared his thoughts on the upcoming cobbled Monument, alongside his former sports director Johan Bruyneel and ex-team-mate George Hincapie.
Armstrong, who has been banned from cycling for life and was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France victories for taking performance enhancing drugs, said: “[Van der Poel] knows what he’s doing, I like the way he races.”
The trio recapped the events of Ghent-Wevelgem last weekend, won by Van der Poel’s great rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and looked ahead to the Tour of Flanders on Sunday (March 4).
Bruyneel, who has also been banned from cycling for life for his involvement in doping, said: “[Van Aert] and Van der Poel are so good. They ride one level higher than the rest. Van Aert won in Wevelgem and actually nobody doubted that it would go that way.
“He was on the road with the best sprinters, but he rode smart.
“I think he would have beaten [Sam] Bennett – on paper among the three fastest sprinters in the world – if he hadn’t suddenly seen the light go out.”
But Bruyneel picked Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Zdenek Štybar to take victory in the second Monument of the season this weekend, while Hincapie picked out world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
Brunyeel said: “At Deceuninck – Quick-Step it is sometimes an advantage not to be the leader.
“This year they already have 14 victories with different riders. After Ghent-Wevelgem they will not have been happy, in the Ronde the better ones will automatically emerge and they will be there. ”