Dubai: Visit Britain sent four GCC cyclists to the UK on Wednesday to recce the route for next summer’s Tour de France starting stage in Yorkshire, England.
The Leeds to Harrogate “Dunes to Dales” four-day ride can be followed on www.dunestodales.com as part of a two-pronged offensive that profiles what Britain has to offer GCC tourists and also promoting cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Edward Hobart, the British Consul General to Dubai, said that thanks to the London 2012 Olympics and back-to-back Tour de France wins by British cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, cycling in the UK is flourishing.
“It’s fantastic to demonstrate that and communicate it here,” said Hobart. “This is yet another human connection between the UK and the GCC.”
Hobart also acknowledged cycling’s growth in the UAE, where next February’s inaugural Tour of Dubai has already prompted the construction of designated cycling tracks in Al Qudra and Nad Al Sheba.
Emirati cyclist Abdul Ghaffar Al Khaja said of the trip: “I’m looking forward to new routes and different weather to raise my fitness and experience to the level of a professional. Every cyclist has to try different terrain and scenarios to change what they are used to.”
Kuwait’s Othman Al Mutairi added: “The end product for me will be memories. I’ll get used to cycling in different weather and at a different pace. Hopefully after every kilometre I’ll experience something new.”
Half a million GCC tourists visited Britain last year, spending one billion pounds, but most stayed in London. The aim of this campaign is to showcase what else Britain has to offer through cyclists who are online and active within their digital communities.
A film crew will follow the quartet, which also includes Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Aziz Al Dawsari and Qatar’s Mohammad Al Kuwari, to demonstrate why Yorkshire was chosen to kickstart the 2014 Tour de France. The project is supported by the UK Embassy in the UAE and Etihad Airways.