Qatar Cycling Federaton Secretary General Majid al-Naimi.
As part of the efforts to promote and appreciate the country’s heritage, the Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) will stage the inaugural edition of the Tour of Zubarah from December 4 to 7.
Al Zubarah cycling race is dedicated to Al Zubarah, which has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
“We are looking forward in hosting the event, which will enrich and raise the awareness of cycling in Qatar and promote our national treasures,” said the secretary general of QCF Majid al-Naimi.
Al Zubarah was one of the main centres of pearl trade, the main source of income in the Gulf region in the 18th and 19th century. The town offers an outstanding testimony to an urban trading and pearl diving tradition, which sustained the region’s major coastal towns and led to the development of Qatar.
“The tour is also aimed at helping the Qatari teams get another chance to prepare for the 2016 World Road Racing Championship,” he added.
“Earlier, we held the Golden Jersey and Grand Prix races in Qatar for two years. Then we stopped to organise something of that level. Tour of Qatar was a great success and more importantly it has provide us an international platform. The experience of organising the annual event for 12 years helped win the bid to host the 2016 World Road Cycling Championships, which will involve more than 1,700 athletes representing over 85 countries and will strengthen the reputation of the country as an international sport destination,” al-Naimi said.
“But for a long time we were planning to have a tour of ‘our own’ which will provide the region’s riders’ much needed exposure and I think the Tour of Zubarah is a right step in that direction.”
The approximately 450km-long event will cover most parts of the country. The race will be start on December 4 with a 3-km prologue around the Lekhwiya Sports Club.
The second stage will be on December 5 from Barzan Towers to Al Zubarah, while the third and the fourth will be held from Al Thakira to Madinath Al Shamal and Mesaieed on the next two days.
“Unlike the Tour of Qatar, this tour will witness our national team riders battling it out with international riders from different parts of the world,” he said.
Labelled a 2.2 level tour by the UCI, the event has attracted 14 teams, according to QCF Secretary-General Majid al-Naimi.
“This year, we picked 14 teams, mostly from the Arab region and Asia. Other teams are from Europe and Australia,” he added.
“This is just the beginning. In future, we plan to make this event much stronger as our goal is to prepare our team well for the World Championships in Qatar. Then our plan is to send the team to various tours abroad to raise its level.
“Also next year, we want to organise the Tour of Zubarah very close to the Tour of Sharjah so that the teams can go to other event after finishing the first one. We’ve already discussed this with the cycling authorities in the UAE.”
Talking about women’s participation in the Tour of Zubarah, he said, “As I said this is the first year of the tour, but I hope in the future we will have women He also remarked that the tours are very vital for the development of the sport in the region. “Having tours is important for the growth of the sport and this will help us push cycling further in Qatar and the region. After the first event, we’d like to improve and take it at even higher level,” he added.
“This would be a great event for the riders from our region. The more races our riders do, the better it will be for them,” he said.
Talking about women participation in the Tour of Zubarah, he said, “As I said this is the first year of the tour, but I hope in the future we have woman participation in the tour as it will provide more opportunities to woman cyclists of the region.”
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