The Velon umbrella group of WorldTour cycling teams has formed a groundbreaking partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) to support the new Abu Dhabi Tour.
Taking place for the first time from October 8-11, the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour will see 18 teams take on four stages – three flat and one mountain – with a twilight stage as the finale. ADSC joined forces with the RCS Sport agency to first announce the event in December and Velon said its partnership represents the first collective race deal of its kind in cycling and a significant step change for the economics of the sport.
Under the deal, Velon has committed to deliver some of its best teams and their top riders to race for the three years from 2015 to 2017, together with marketing and technology support to enhance and promote the race and its #RideToAbuDhabi campaign. ADSC and Velon will work together under a revenue sharing model with a joint interest in developing the race.
Velon will also seek to continue to bring new technology and innovation to the Abu Dhabi Tour with on-bike and behind the scenes footage at the 2015 edition and, with ADSC’s support, further initiatives in future years.
Velon chief executive Graham Bartlett said: “This is a new race with big plans and Velon is delighted to be part of it. We’ve partnered with other race organisers in the past but this agreement is wider ranging then anything before. Our shareholders formed Velon for it to make these kind of partnerships.”
Aref Hamad Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, added: “This partnership confirms our strategy and ambitions: a great race needs great characters and working with Velon guarantees their presence. Moreover, this WorldTour teams venture is clearly showing its focus on innovation and it’s exactly what we want: the Abu Dhabi Tour looks to the future and we’re proud to collaborate on the technological development of cycling.”
Following the final stage, Abu Dhabi Tour will also host the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) new UCI Cycling Gala end-of-season awards that will celebrate the finish of the professional road cycling season. Velon will aid the hosting of this event.
The formation of the Abu Dhabi Tour comes with the Dubai Tour having made its debut in February 2014 and the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman having established themselves as Middle Eastern events on the cycling calendar.
Velon was formed last year and is wholly owned and controlled equally by the 11 shareholding teams. Headquartered in the UK, the commercial organisation was founded by BMC Racing Team, Etixx – Quick-Step, Lampre – Merida, Lotto Soudal, Orica GreenEdge, Team Cannondale – Garmin, Team Giant – Alpecin, Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, Team Sky, Tinkoff – Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.