It was under a chilly winter night — and far from the madding crowd, as the cliche goes — that another feather in Dubai’s cap as a leading sporting hub in the Middle East was added last Friday. Come next year, the Dubai Tour will see some of the world’s leading cyclists vie for glory in what would be the region’s first major event in the sport.
The announcement coincided with the formal launch of the Dubai Cycling Track on the Al Qudrah Road towards Bab Al Shams Resort, while the other details like the route, list of entries and the prize money is likely to unfold in the coming months. Suffice to say that the event has already been granted a slot in the calendar of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport’s governing body, and enjoys a seal of approval from the likes of former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjidal and Vincenzo Nibali — all of whom were guests of honour last week.
The idea of bringing in an international event in a niche sport like cycling seems to be in sync with Dubai’s image, which has given the region many a ‘firsts’ — and not necessarily only in sport. The city gave the region their first taste of a European Tour golf event with the introduction of the Dubai Desert Classic, brought tennis and is now among the list of handful of ATP/WTA Tour stops in the world, a world-class marathon — not to mention the richest horse race in the world with the Dubai World Cup.
It had been a while, though, since a new event was announced in Dubai and so it’s time to look forward to the Dubai Tour in what’s one of the most arduous sports disciplines. Granted it’s not a mass entertainment sport like football, tennis or cricket but at its best, it can be a wonderful spectator sport and enjoys a loyal band of followers which Dubai can hope to tap.
The sport’s demanding nature makes it a popular one with the fitness fanatics of the city, who must be looking forward to making good use of this 18-kilometre track on the outskirts of the city which offers a picturesque ride through the desert. Exposure to a Tour event like this from next year can only be a good incentive for many to take up the sport in earnest.
It will be interesting to find out if, like the marathon, which offers shorter-distance races like the 3km fun run to lure casual runners, the Dubai Tour will have something on offer for the amateurs.
Looking forward to the Dubai Tour then, which promises to showcase the beauty of the emirate.