The UCI has reconfigured the elite men's road race course for the 2016 Road World Championships in Doha, Belga reported today. Previously, the race course included 80km leading into 11 laps of a technical 15.2km circuit that encircled The Pearl. The new course puts riders into the desert for 151km, incorporating some of the route used for the Tour of Qatar opening stage, and then returning for seven local circuits.
When the course was previewed during the Tour of Qatar, riders did four laps of the local circuit after 74.2km of open roads, and the peloton came to the line together for a bunch sprint where Alexander Kristoff narrowly defeated Mark Cavendish for the win.
Fans hoping for the race to shatter in the crosswinds, as typically happens during the Tour of Qatar, were disappointed that there wasn't more desert riding in the World Championships, but Cavendish was unsurprisingly pleased with the route.
"It was windier than I thought it was going to be actually, there wasn't so much shelter from the buildings and the wind was coming always from a different direction when we moved around," Cavendish said after stage 2 of Tour of Qatar. "I don't think the final circuit will create any splits but it's definitely going to be uncomfortable no matter where you are in the group. It's going to be tiring after that distance, you know, you can't sit in and chill for the final."
Cavendish was against lengthy stretches of desert, arguing that it was not suitable for such a long race.
"At the end of the day if you went on the big open roads and created echelons from the beginning, it's too far to go for a 260-kilometre race. So I actually think in terms of having a World Championships here in Qatar it's quite a sensible idea," Cavendish said. "The people who write on your internet forums are going to want echelons and that but we're not fucking robots, we're not going to do that for 260k, no matter who's there."
The start of the men's road race also got a tweak. Rather than leave from the Seaside resort, the peloton will depart from the Aspire Zone near the Khalifa Stadium and head north to Al Khor and back.
The elite women will also race seven laps of the local circuit, starting from the Qatar Foundation and heading through town to the circuit for a total of 134.5km.