After UCI Worlds, a league to boost cycling in Qatar
October 19 2016 11:42 PM
Dr Abdulaziz al-Kuwari of Qatar Cyclists (left), Royal Air Marco’s Saeed al-Hajri (second from left), Qatar Cycling Federation secretary general Ahmed al-Hemaidi (centre), QCF technical secretary Andrej Fillip (second from right) and QCR chairman Ben Keane (right) at the press conference announcing Royal Air Marco Cycling League yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram

Qatar cycling aficionados can now test themselves in a competitive race in a brand new cycling league, which begins tomorrow.
On the back of recently-concluded UCI World Road Race Championship, Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) and its volunteer branch Qatar Chain Reaction (QCR), in association with Qatar Cyclists, will start a five-month long Royal Air Maroc Cycling League from Al Thakhira Centre with 150 riders.
QCF secretary general Ahmed al-Hemaidi said he was pleased with the start of the local league.
“Cycling has reached new heights of popularity in Qatar thanks to the UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016. We are delighted to announce the new league for the local people and I’m hopeful it’ll grow even more in the coming years,” al-Hemaidi said, while addressing a press conference yesterday.
“The Qatar Cycling Federation is delighted to have the support of Royal Air Maroc, whose generosity further propels cycle racing in Qatar forward,” he said.
Qatar Cycling Federation technical secretary Andrej Fillip was enthusiastic about the league and said that the new league, which will run till April, is the next “natural step’ for the evolution of cycling in Qatar”.
“Although we have conducted so many races in the past, we could never do a systematic league competition. It will change this Friday with the start of the Royal Air Maroc Cycling League,” Fillip said.
“Earlier, cycling in Qatar used to be a sport based purely on individuals’ love and dedication to it. However lately, more teams have started coming in. Now, there is now more investment in the sport. All these are signs that cycling in Qatar is maturing,” he said.
Talking about the ever-growing domestic cycling season, Fillip said it would be “busier than ever”.
“This year, at least 25 races are scheduled till the end of April 2017. There will be 10 races in the league competition and we will have at least 10 participating teams. I’m confident the new league will be a huge success,” Fillip said.
One of the organisers behind the league, QCR chairman Ben Keane said while the cycling scene had already been growing in Qatar in recent years, he is hopeful the new league will bring more riders into competitive cycling.
“At the moment the cycling scene is on the rise and we have a large number of riders for the league,” he said.
“We have 150 riders registered for the first race and have closed the registration process as it is difficult to manage more riders for the inaugural race,” Keane said.
The races have different categories including two for women.
In addition to providing prizes for each road race and time trial through the season, points accumulated will count towards the grand prize for the series winners. The current points leaders in each category will have the honour of wearing the scarlet jersey.
Royal Air Maroc’s Saeed al-Hajri and Dr Abdulaziz al-Kuwari of Qatar Cyclists were also present during press conference yesterday.
THE RACE SCHEDULE (provisional)
October 21: Al Thakhira Centre Road Race from Al Thakhira-Ras Laffan
November 11: National Time Trial from Lusail QCF Technical Zone
November 12: National Road Race C’ship from Lusail QCF Technical Zone
November 25: Al Shamal Road Race from Al Shamal Sports Club
Januray 6, 2017: Raseen Sports Time trial from Raffa Street
January 20: Dukhan Road Race from Dukhan Beach
February 24: Al Thakhira Centre Road Race from Al Thakhira-Ras Laffan
March 17: Al Khor Road Race from Al Khor Cornich
March 31: Dukhan Road Race from Dukhan Beach
April 14: Final Race (Time Trial) from Lusail QCF Technical Zone

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