The 2015 men's professional season will end with a new big-budget stage race in Abu Dhabi, with the four-day race expected to attract some of the biggest riders and teams in the peloton.
The race will be held between Thursday October 8 and Sunday October 11, starting four days after Il Lombardia in Italy. It will be organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport. In many ways the Abu Dhabi Tour will replace the now defunct Tour of Beijing but it will not initially be part of the UCI WorldTour calendar. For the 2015 season, the race has a 2.1 status.
The Abu Dhabi Tour was quietly given a slot in the Asia 2015 race calendar by the UCI in October but details of the race have only now emerged.
"We are proud to advise and support the creation of the Abu Dhabi Tour under the guidance of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the UAE Cycling Federation. This important goal is in line with RCS Sport's strategy focused on extending its activities towards new international markets. I would like to thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for its contribution to growing the value of professional cycling by taking into consideration, since the beginning, all stakeholders’ expectations," said Lorenzo Giorgetti, Director of RCS Sports and Events JLT.
Details of the route of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour will be announced in June 2015. The four stages are expected to visit different parts of Abu Dhabi, with a possible stage finish on the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit motor racing circuit, which is open to cyclists for evening bike rides.
Cyclingnews understands that the Abu Dhabi Sports Council wanted to organise a race after seeing the success of the inaugural Dubai Tour in February and of the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both part of the United Arab Emirates but compete to host some of the world’s biggest sporting events. Both are beginning to see cycling as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle, attract tourism and bolster their presence in competitive sports. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, has been spotted riding a bike. Abu Dhabi will hold its first ever cycling awareness day on January 13.
RCS Sport has created a subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates, headed by Lorenzo Giorgetti, to manage its growing portfolio of events in the UAE.
"We are proud to host and organize the Abu Dhabi Tour, which will show to the entire world the most prominent landmarks of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and will bring additional value to the world of cycle racing," Mr. Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said in a press release.
"This event is in line with the overall goal of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to develop sport through events that reach the entire community, from the young to families, as cycling does. I would like to thank the Government of Abu Dhabi, which will be supporting this event and the growth of cycling by creating the infrastructure to encourage people to practice cycling as a healthy life style choice."