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Where are the fans? TT champ frustrated by quiet Qatar

DOHA (AFP) — Tony Martin admitted his frustration on Wednesday about the very low number of spectators watching the world road cycling championships in Doha, Qatar.

Fresh off claiming the individual time trial win, a record-equalling fourth title in that event and his second gold of the week after the team time trial, Martin said he would wait until he returns home to Germany to properly celebrate his achievements because so few fans had turned out to watch.

“About the crowd, it would sure be nice to have some more fans here to celebrate with. The real celebrations will be when I get home,” he told reporters.

The empty galleries have been noticeable throughout the championships.

And even though Wednesday’s race appeared to have more spectators than in previous days, the number of fans watching on the course, even at the finish in a well-populated area of Doha, was very low.

Spain’s Jonathan Castroviejo, who finished third in the time trial, said the lack of fans made it more difficult for the riders. “It’s very hard. Normally there are many spectators, but here not,” he said.

Low spectator numbers is likely to lead to more criticism of the UCI for organizing the event in Qatar, the first time it has been held in the Middle East.

Already there has been criticism that the championships were being held in the Gulf because of the high temperatures. Races have been held in heats of 37 or 38 degrees Celsius, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The fierce heat may be a reason why so few spectators have lined the course, but even in well-shaded areas such as the Pearl Qatar, where the races finish, fan numbers have been exceptionally low compared to previous championships.