Road to the first UAE Tour – the Middle East gamechanger
The new UCI WorldTour race will start in Abu Dhabi and will end in Dubai,
with a course through the other Emirates.
The much-anticipated merger between the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour will create a bigger, better and more successful race – The UAE Tour, the one and only WorldTour race in the Middle East – which will be ideal for strong, all-round riders. The 2019 edition will start in Abu Dhabi and end in Dubai, while the 2020 Race will reverse the route. Organisers expect to expand the race to include more stages as it develops.
The race organisers consist of the Sports Councils of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in partnership with RCS Sport. A trio which brings a depth of experience, including nine editions of Emirates’ tour racing (with five Dubai and four Abu Dhabi Tours) and which guarantees vision, experience and the right know-how.
In line with cycling tradition, the route and jerseys will be unveiled only early next year. However, the new logo, the official advertising campaign and associated promotional activities will be shown in a dedicated event at the beginning of October. This will also provide the opportunity to talk about the 2019 format of the former “Abu Dhabi Tour Challenge”.
The first edition of the Challenge, in 2017, consisted of two time trials and an elimination race on consecutive days on the Yas Marina cycling circuit, and attracted almost 900 total entries. In 2018 a new multidisciplinary format was launched, with the support of Mark Cavendish as Ambassador and Tag Heuer as official timekeeper. It consisted of three different stages, with the first round on the iconic climb of Jebel Hafeet and the other two staged on the Yas Marina F1 Circuit.
UAE Tour Educational Project
Also due to be unveiled in October will be the new edition of the Educational project: an hour-long workshop created exclusively for UAE schools focusing on familiarizing students with the history of the bicycle, the benefits of cycling and road safety. In the last three years, almost 4,000 children between 8 and 12 years old, and from thirty different schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra attended the Educational project. Thanks to the new UAE Tour, in 2019 the project will also be extended to several schools from the other Emirates.
Yousif Mirza, UAE Team Emirates rider, commented: “I am fortunate to have been able to realise my dream of being a professional cyclist. I am able to travel the world and have the honor of representing the United Arab Emirates in the most important World Tour races. It started with the joy I felt riding my bike as a child, which I would like more young people in the UAE to experience. I am proud to support the Educational project which, together with the UAE Tour, will be a great way to inspire future UAE champions.”
H.E. Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council General Secretary, commented:“Since the beginning, we’ve been working to create a race more and more appealing to fans and riders. This merging represents an opportunity to become bigger, stronger to better promote cycling culture in the Middle East and the UAE worldwide,” said.
“We are very proud of the last five years’ achievements of the Dubai Tour, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors, partners and volunteers because we were all part of the same team. Now, we’re going to create a new one, together with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. And I’m really proud to be part of this new team because challenge is the spice of life and a trait common to both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Councils”, added H.E. Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council General Secretary.
Mr. Osama Al Shafar, President of the UAE Cycling Federation, commented: “Both Sports councils have gained a great technical and organizational experience in recent years. The decision to join forces and create the UAE Tour guarantees a great future for professional and amateur cycling in the Emirates”.
“This choice made by both partners demonstrates a real awareness of, and positive response to, the necessity for change in order to grow. From my perspective, the ability to have a longer race is an opportunity to have a good mix of stages, open to all kind of riders, like the Italian Tirreno-Adriatico, an opportunity to better explore the UAE territory”, said Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Cycling Director.