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Dubai Tour could expand, host Giro departure

DUBAI (VN) — Everybody seemed to like what they saw in the first edition of the Dubai Tour, especially local sheiks underwriting the four-day race.

So much so, they’re hoping to expand the race by an additional day for 2015.

“We would like to expand the race by one day, but that also depends on the calendar,” Saeed Hareb, chairman of the organizing committee, told journalists. “We need approvals to make sure it does not clash with Qatar and Oman.”

Dubai watched with interest as nearby nations Qatar and Oman developed bicycle races, and then jumped into the game with a flourish this year with a four-day event positioned just ahead of the Tour of Qatar, which started Sunday.

The opening edition largely went off without a hitch, though local motorists complained about road closures. Riders and teams seemed largely satisfied with the event, especially the luxury digs and spectacular setting.

Some suggested the stages could be a bit longer to make the race both more of a challenge and worth their while to travel so far for what this year were only three race days, including a 9.9km time trial.

For 2015, organizers are considering taking the course into the expansive desert country beyond Dubai’s spectacular urban landscape.

“When we received the proposal for the Dubai Tour, we said, ‘Why not?’ After all, Dubai hosts many world-class events, and cycling is a prestigious addition to the list,” Hareb told journalists Saturday. “We are all happy with what we saw. It brought people out onto the streets. We hope to grow the event next year.”

RCS Sport, which also organizes the Giro d’Italia, has a three-year agreement with the Dubai Sports Council to help organize and develop the race.

The race was born out of discussions about hosting the departure of the Giro. Officials from RCS Sport said hosting an annual event rather than a one-off grand-tour departure would be a better investment for the development of cycling in Dubai.

And while RCS Sport officials said they would consider a Giro start in Dubai, there are several obstacles to overcome. First, a seven-hour flight back to Italy would make it tough on the peloton. And while temperatures are moderate in February, oppressive heat can kick in by early May.

That said, the Giro has ventured far from home, with the 2012 kickoff in Denmark and Belfast slated to host the sendoff this year. In that case, UCI officials allowed the Giro to add an additional rest day to allow for the peloton to fly back to Italy from Ireland.



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