Nick Viall Reacts to New Bachelorettes Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia: 'I Think They're Phenomenal'

"I think you're getting really two compelling leads," the Viall Files host tells the PEOPLE Every Day podcast about the surprising Season 19 casting announcement

The Bachelorette is undergoing a major makeover for Season 19 — and one Bachelor Nation alum couldn't be more curious to see how it plays out.

Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey, the runners-up for Clayton Echard's Bachelor season, were announced as the next leading ladies for The Bachelorette during Tuesday night's After the Final Rose special. The two women will star in the same season together as they search to find love, a first for the franchise.

Former Bachelor Nick Viall believes is a smart move considering the pair's bond.

"The highlight of this season was the camaraderie between Rachel and Gabby, and the empathy that those two women showed for one another," he explains in a new episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. "They were incredibly heartbroken [by Echard breaking up with them] and had every right to be... but they still showed compassion for one another, which is something Clayton failed to do."

Nick Viall Reacts to Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia’s Double Bachelorette News: 'I Think They’re Phenomenal'
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Both Recchia and Windey were contestants on Echard's season of The Bachelor. The two women were eliminated during the season finale after he decided to try to pursue a relationship with Susie Evans, who initially left after learning the lead had been intimate with both Recchi and Windey. Echard had also told all three women that he was in love with them.

While neither Recchia or Windey received the final rose, they both got another chance at love when the producers announced next season's casting. And Viall, 41, feels producers made the right choice.

"I think they're phenomenal," The Viall Files podcast host says of the future Bachelorettes. "In Gabby, you see someone who, it seems, made women feel very empowered with the way she handled Clayton and way she confronted him and just how articulate she was."

He continued, "And you saw Rachel kind of fight for that relationship for the both of them, and empathize with the position that Clayton was in as The Bachelor, only to be blindsided and heartbroken by someone who wasn't considering their feelings."

Viall was the the runner-up on the 11th season of The Bachelorette, which famously featured two leads: Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson. The season received criticism for having the male contestants vote on the woman they most wanted to woo, sending Nilsson packing after the first episode. Even Viall admits the decision "wasn't great," but thinks "the franchise knows better" after that 2015 misfire.

Little has been shared about how the next season will play out; what if the women fall for the same contestant or if one of the men is smitten with both leads? No matter what happens, Viall is certain the casting announcement is reason enough to tune in. "I think you're getting really two compelling leads and two compelling characters who both have stories that I'm invested in," he says. "And I think a lot of people are, and it's exciting to watch."

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With only so much airtime for both love stories to play out, Viall wonders if there will be extra episodes "because there's so much going on," but he has no doubt producers are sorting that out as we speak.

"Hopefully they're not pitted against each other too much," he adds. "But I suspect that Rachel and Gabby will do everything they can to avoid that."

The upcoming season of The Bachelorette doesn't premiere until July 11, giving Bachelor Nation fans their first break from the franchise in nearly a year. In the meantime, Viall will be covering all things Bachelor-related on his weekly podcast, including a new interview with Season 26 winner Evans.

"After talking to Susie, I really trust her judgment," he reveals. "She came across as incredibly self-aware... I was really curious what she thought about the conversations that Rachel and Gabby had with Clayton at After the Final Rose because it was tough for anyone to watch and it must have been tough for Susie."

Check out more episodes of PEOPLE Every Day, airing on Apple podcasts, iHeartMedia, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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