Ala is better in climbing en explosivity than Van Aert. Maybe Van Aert is better in long and tough competitions. Van der Poel has the same explosivity than Ala, but is a lesser climber. Both, Van Aert and Van der Poel, are a little faster in the sprint than Ala. So, it will depend from the course or race tactics..... and of the teams and the teammates. There again, Ala has a better team. And in a year (or two), in a duo with Evenepoel, and helped by Almeida and Vansevenant in the mountains, and by other strong riders in the (hill) classics, they will be difficult to beat.I think van Aert is comparable, an amazing allrounder, can sprint, time trial and also climb well, plus has the technique. I don't know about his limits, yet, but I feel that I don't know Ala's either. The Ventoux-performance was really astounding, climbing better than Ciccone, Mollema, Vlasov. But I don't know the numbers and where the others are in their preparation. I suppose Alaphilippe, with his focus on the spring, is further ahead. Anyway, it made me think that maybe I am wrong in repeating that he's a one-day-racer.
If Wout and Julian meet in a race and there's a poggio before the finish, Ala will always get away from van Aert, but what really makes the difference between them - so far I would still say van Aert has slightly more pure talent - is simply the way Alaphilippe races, the attitude and nature of his racing. It's different from everybody else in the peloton right now.
I am excited to see some head to heads this season. As a GT winner and almost Tour winner, Roglic cannot be rated behind Ala in terms of quality. Also, with his time trialing, his climbing, his punchiness he cannot be called a one-trick-pony. He's just a much more boring rider in my eyes.
Van der Poel has his niche as a threesome-cyclist and amazing qualities, but since I don't see him climbing with the very best (yet), for me he's behind van Aert and Alaphilippe as a road cyclist.
Pogacar is . Let's see what he will do this year.
And Evenepoel, if he comes back to his level before the crash, even improves, is clearly above Alaphilippe, not so much for his allrounding, more for the pure incredible pull.