RICHMOND, Virginia (AFP) — For all the concern about severe heat in staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, organizers of next year’s UCI Road World Championships in Doha have no such worries.
Officials revealed course details Thursday for the October 8-16, 2016 event in Qatar, the first staging of the event in the Middle East, and said plans have been made for extra water stations to combat dehydration.
Average October high temperatures in the Doha area run between 34-40 degrees Celsius (93-104 F), with the monthly average high near 39 degrees.
“There shouldn’t be a major heat concern,” said Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Thani, chairman of the 2016 worlds organizing committee, in remarks during the 2015 worlds in Richmond.
“What’s most important is the safety of the riders. There’s no danger for their health.
“The temperatures will be a little warm in October. We are taking extra precautions. We’ll have extra water. We’re going to provide more water stations.”
World Cup football officials shifted the 2022 event to November-December over major heat worries in Qatar, with air-conditioned stadiums under construction to ease fears the desert nation would be too sweltering.
“We’re not air conditioning,” said John Lelangue, technical operations director for the Doha 2016 cycling worlds.
“We’re not expecting so much heat. We’ll be top temperatures 34, 36, 38, 40 degrees. It will be hotter than in Belgium but we will have been racing all around the year in other countries. There are no worries in this regard. October is a nice month.”
While temperatures could rival those for European events in hotter months, there will be no mountain climbs on offer in Qatar, although brisk winds could foil the plans of sprinters on the flat course.
“Visitors can expect temperatures no higher than the Tour de France,” said 70-year-old Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx.
In addition, men have competed in the Tour of Qatar since 2002 and women since 2009. The January-February timed event has slightly cooler conditions but plenty of familiar challenges like the wind.
“Unfortunately I can’t do anything about the wind. It’s part of the race. The wind is the wind for everybody,” Lelangue said.
“It will be windy. It’s not a sandstorm. The riders are used to riding there for 14 years. They will know what to expect.”
Courses for the 253-kilometer men’s road race, 138km women’s road race, 24km women’s time trials, and 40km men’s time trials include trips into the desert and around the man-made island “The Pearl” to show Doha’s modernity as well as culture and traditions, with city skyscrapers in the background at the finish line.
“It’s an honor the world governing body has trusted in us to host,” Al Thani said. “We’re confident we can host some exciting races.”