Dubai Tour aiming for a place in the WorldTour

'Our challenge is to be one of the top races in the world,' say event organizers

The organisers of the Dubai Tour have confirmed that they would like to see the race in the UCI WorldTour in 2017, when the major reforms to the race calendars are due to be introduced. The Dubai Tour could fill a gap in the WorldTour calendar between the Tour Down Under in January and Paris-Nice.

Dubai has the wealth to cover the cost of the race, with the prize money for a golf or tennis tournament enough to pay for the whole race. Dubai uses the race to promote cycling as a sport and a form of transport and to promote Dubai globally as a holiday and business destination.

The four-day race is organised by the Dubai Sports Council and the Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport. After a successful second edition, a contract between the two is expected to run for at least a further three years, with an option for a further five years. Several sponsorship contracts have already been signed for the next few years, including one with Audi that provide the race vehicles.

Saeed Hareb, the chairman of the organising committee and the head of the Dubai Sports Council is very keen to extend the length of the race despite complaints from numerous local residents that the race worsens an already chronic traffic problem.

“Part of the WorldTour? Why not?” Hareb said in a final press conference after the race.

“Our challenge is to be one of the top races in the world. There is no end of possibilities and no end to the dream. If you can organise four stages, it’s not more difficult to organise more than 12 stages.

“We are not in a hurry, but we want to grow. As regards how, where and when, I think that we need more experience and we need to give our people here time to be in a position where they are ready to take on 10 or 12 stages.”

It is unlikely that teams and riders would be interested in racing in Dubai for more than a week and one of the principles of the WorldTour reforms is to reduce stage race lengths to around five days. However, Lorenzo Giorgetti, the CEO of RCS Sports and Events in the UAE, claimed the Dubai Tour already respects the key criteria for a place in the WorldTour.

“I know the UCI is talking to riders, teams and organisers but some of the criteria are already clear: they include rider safety, the quality of TV production, and the quality of hospitality. If you put these all of these in an Excel spreadsheet and compare them to other races, I think the Dubai Tour has the right to claim a WorldTour place,” Giorgetti said.

“Cycling is growing tremendously in Dubai. It's profile is different to that in traditional cycling countries, it's considered the new golf. The presence of his Sheikh Mohammed Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai at the finish of stage 2 was very significant. He told the Arab media that Dubai was happy to welcome riders from so many different countries because it wants to be considered one of the most welcoming and tolerant countries in the Islamic world that believes in integration and the success of the region.”

On Saturday, Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) won this year's Dubai Tour, which was UCI 2.HC status.

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