Sheikh Khalid happy with cycling’s Gulf boom
February 02 2014 11:36 PM

Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) President Sheikh Khalid bin al-Thani feels the new Dubai Tour, which begins this week, will not take the spotlight away from the Tour of Qatar.

“I think the Dubai event will add another chapter to the Gulf region’s cycling’s success story which began in Qatar in 2001 with the preparations for the first Tour of Qatar,” said Sheikh Khalid, who was instrumental in establishing both the QCF and the Tour of Qatar.

The first edition of the Dubai Tour will take place from February 5-8 and includes a total of four stages. The tour will now open the Asia Tour calendar which also hosts the Tour of Oman since 2010.

The Tour of Qatar, which began on an experimental basis after the country won the hosting rights for the 2006 Asian Games, has grown into a major event in the annual international calendar. Since its foundation in 2002, the event has been part of the UCI Asia tour.

The tour consists of a men’s competition over six stages, and a ladies competition over four stages (since 2009).

“We are very proud to be the first country in the region to host an international professional cycling team race in 2002. Dubai is following our steps and I think the new event will boost the soaring popularity of cycling in the Gulf region and put the entire region on the global map,” Sheikh Khalid said.

“It took a lot of efforts to convince the authorities that such professional races, which were a part of Europe, Australia and the USA till that time, can be organised here. And since 2001, Qatar has provided the structure and set the pace for each year’s cycling season with great success.

“I am very happy that they are following our success and the global focus will be on the region for a longer time as now we will have three events in the region,” he said.

The QCF president added that riders stand to gain the most from the development.

“The riders will now have three consecutive races in the beginning of the season and it will help them for the rest of the season,” he said.

Sheikh Khalid also vowed to work towards promoting the sport among women in the country.

“We are focusing on two fronts to develop women’s cycling. We are working towards developing a mass base for the sport, and trying to nurture stronger girls who can compete for Qatar at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships in Doha.”

The QCF has also roped in Australian rider Chloe Hosking, who finished overall second during the last Ladies Tour of Qatar, for a training session with the Qatar women’s team.

“We asked Chloe to impart some tips to our young riders in a training session. I hope the session will be an inspiring one for the riders.”

QCF and Qatar Automobiles Company (Mitsubishi) signed a sponsorship deal yesterday for the official transport during the Tour of Qatar. Sheikh Khalid and Qatar Automobiles Company General Manager Ihab el-Feky inked the documents for the sponsorship.

“Qatar Automobiles Company is pleased to renew its support for the Qatar Cycling Federation. Qatar has established as a world-class destination for international events. We’re proud of our association with the Qatar Cycling Federation and other major sporting organisations in Qatar and wish the athletes a safe and successful race,” said El-Feky.

Sheikh Khalid also expressed his gratitude to the sponsors for their alliance with the premier cycling events in the region.

“As always, Qatar Automobiles Company is demonstrating its role as an active member of our community and we sincerely thank them for their continued support for our organisation,” Sheikh Khalid said.

ExxonMobil Qatar has also announced its support for the Qatar Cycling Federation. “ExxonMobil Qatar is proud to support the Qatar Cycling Federation as sponsors of this leading event for the fifth consecutive year,” said Jos Evens, Vice-President, Marketing for ExxonMobil Qatar Inc.

“At ExxonMobil Qatar, we work local partners to promote active lifestyles among residents of Qatar through our community outreach programmes, all towards creating a healthier community.

“Events such as this one also allow us to reiterate our support for elevating Qatar’s status as a global sporting hub, while highlighting its position as a business and investment hub.”

The 97-km first stage of the Ladies Tour 2014 will begin at the Museum of Islamic Arts before concluding in Mesaieed tomorrow.

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