Dubai: Dubai’s hopes of becoming a major destination for cyclists took a significant step forward on Friday night, when the new Dubai Cycling Course was opened and a 2014 Dubai Tour for the world’s top stars announced.
Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurated the Dubai Cycling Course at a colourful function at the track, which is located on Al Qudrah Road towards Bab Al Shams Resort.
A spokesman for the 2014 event said: “For the first time we will host a world-class cycling championship under the calendar of the International Cycling Union right here in Dubai. This event will attract the elite cyclists of the world and will also allow us to showcase the beauty of Dubai.”
Shaikh Mansour also took a tour of the Bicycle Museum along with Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). This was followed by a one kilometre time trial exhibition race involving Grand Tour event winners Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjidal and Vincenzo Nibali. Contador won the race with Nibali second and Hesjidal a close third.
Speaking after receiving the winner’s trophy from Shaikh Mansour, Spaniard Contador said: “Today’s race was too short but I really loved it. It was a great initiative by the sports body here.”
Talking about the future of Dubai as a prominent centre for cycling competitions, 2007 Tour de France winner Contador, who is one of only five riders to have won all three Grand Tours of road cycling, said: “The facilities are a good and it will be a big boost for the sport in Dubai.”
Italian rider Nibali said: “In Dubai we have seen all sports being held and it is nice to see that cycling too will make its mark soon. It is a good start right away by deciding to bring in top stars.”
When asked whether riders would be attracted to participating in the Dubai Tour 2014, Nibali said: “Dubai’s decision to embrace cycling is exciting news for cyclists around the world and I am sure all the top riders will be here in 2014 for the event.”
An acrobatic cycling display by Vittorio Brumotti enthralled the large gathering. A cyclist also competed against a horse, cheered on by hundreds of spectators.