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Abu Dhabi, Dubai target cycling showpiece with UAE Tour

Organisers of the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Dubai Tour have said they aim to create one of cycling’s leading events after announcing a merger of the two races.

A new-look UAE Tour is set to be run over seven stages from 2019 following a Memorandum of Understanding struck between the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Councils.

The Dubai Tour was first staged in 2014 and currently holds 2.HC status, according to the International Cycling Union’s (UCI’s) race categorisation. The Abu Dhabi Tour was formed one year later and was elevated to elite WorldTour status in 2017.

“After the success we have had in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours we have decided that it was time for us to move forward together,” HE Aref Hamad Al Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), said.

“The instructions have come from our leadership that we should utilise the success that we have achieved during this period. This is also the right time as it coincides with the Year of Zayed (which marks 100 years since the birth of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE).

“Our objective is for all the Emirates to participate and be a part of this event. The distance of the race will vary from stage to stage but in seven Emirates we have more places to explore. The only thing that is under discussion is how to fit the race in the best time of the year in the UAE. We usually submit two dates with priority one and two. And it is on the reasonable days of the year when we have very attractive climate which is February. We will like to keep this the same.”

Al Awani added that the two bodies will seek further cooperation with Velon, the collective organisation of pro cycling teams, in order to ensure strong representation in the new UAE Tour.

“We will continue to work with Velon because they manage most of the teams and as such there shouldn’t be any impact on the cycling teams coming to the UAE,” Al Awani said. “We will have the announcement of what the tour will be like, the new logo, new trophy and dates by September or October.”

Al Awani’s counterpart at the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), HE Saeed Hareb, added: “This event will provide the world audience a better idea of the country’s landscape from the beachside areas to the sand dunes and the mountains.

“For instance, we can show the world of the work that’s in progress for the Expo 2020 because we will take the cyclists across this project. The Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours were both successful, now the UAE Tour is stronger to create a bigger impact all-round and allow the world-wide television audience to discover new areas and locations in the country.”