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No specially-built circuit for Qatar 2016 Worlds

Barry Ryan
February 8, 19:30,
February 8, 18:29
First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 9, 2014
The peloton rides with the skyline of Doha in the background.

The peloton rides with the skyline of Doha in the background.

  • The peloton rides with the skyline of Doha in the background.
  • The Ladies Tour of Qatar stage 3 start
  • The peloton on the Doha Corniche
  • The wide roads of the Doha Corniche gave the bunch plenty of space

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Road race to start and finish on Doha's Corniche

The head of the Qatar Cycling Federation has ruled out building a special circuit or climb for the 2016 world championships in Doha but said that the ongoing development of the city's transport infrastructure means that precise details of the route are yet to be defined.

Speaking to reporters in Doha, federation president Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Thani said that the local organising committee had considered constructing a purpose-built course for the Worlds, but that the time frame simply didn't allow it.

"It was suggested, it was something that was done in Moscow before [for the 1980 Olympics], but unfortunately we don't have the time to do it," Al Thani said. "It's very complicated here because Doha and Qatar are developing very quickly with a lot of infrastructure going around. It would have been difficult to change all the planning. I don't think it would be feasible to do it."

Doha's Corniche, the city-centre promenade that hosts the final stages of both the men's and women's Tours of Qatar, will be the site of the start and finish lines for the road races at the 2016 Worlds. Al Thani explained that a provisional course has already been sketched out, but added that that Qatar's rapidly-expanding road network means that the current parcours is by no means definitive. In any case, however, it is certain to be flat and likely to suit the sprinters.

"We already have route planned as it exists now in Qatar, but Qatar is a very fast-developing country and you have new roads every day, and I think it will change over time," he said.

The fast growth of Qatar's infrastructure has not been without controversy. Al Thani pointed to the fact that the stadia for the football World Cup in 2022 will be linked by cycle paths and rental bikes, but it was also recently reported that 185 Nepalese immigrants working on construction sites for the tournament died in 2013 alone.

The date of the Doha world championships is also yet to be decided, although unlike the 2022 World Cup, it is unlikely to necessitate a radical overhaul of the 2016 cycling calendar. The Qatari preference, Al Thani said, is to hold the race as late as possible in order to avoid high local temperatures in September, but the final decision rests with the UCI.

"It's up to the UCI but we're getting the impression that it will be in early October. It will be the better time for us, I think," Al Thani said. "The world championships are normally in September but we're trying to make it as late as possible because here the weather is a little bit harsh, at least in early September. It's not too bad, but the later we have it, the better it will be."

While the best riders in the world will descend on Qatar in 2016, it remains to be seen if there will be local participants in all of the races on the schedule. The country's first women's team was only established in late 2013, under the stewardship of former professional Pia Sunstedt, and the odds seem stacked against any Qatari participation in the elite women's races.

"With the men, we are sure we are going to be there. The girls are just starting and we hope they will continue with us. They have a goal in front of them, so we hope to see them participate in the world championships," Al Thani said. "We have been through this before. When we first started cycling in Qatar in 2001, in preparation for the 2006 Asian Games and we had a [men's] team in time for that. We had a plan and we made it."

Kurt Wallace 6 months ago
Ugh. The Middle East continues to buy big events.
HeadPack 6 months ago
Would have less of a problem with that if they started spending money on making working conditions more humane. 185 dead workers on construction sites for sport is beyond insane. They must bribe FIFA immensely to put a blind eye on that. Hope nobody has to give his life for the road WC.
get-biggers-boners 6 months ago
Yes the last thing we need is more bicycle races for pros to race and us to watch. Just in case you were wondering "The Middle East continues to buy big events" sounds about as racist as you can get.
Kurt Wallace 6 months ago
The MIddle East is a geographical area. Places within it such as Qatar have a great deal of money, but not a cycling culture. Thus they use their money to influence organizations such as UCI to let them host an event. The races will not be there because of a local cycling scene, nor a fan base. Just like the football World Cup or anything else they come up with. So no, not racist.
get-biggers-boners 6 months ago
They use their money to influence the UCI even though they have no culture of cycling and therefore should not have races. How is that not racist? I mean you don't need to throw in arabs with their oil money. But it's pretty much implied in your post.
Kurt Wallace 5 months ago
This has nothing to do with race. It is entirely about money. Please see the Winter Olympics for other instances of money's influence being greater than other factors.
argyllflyer 5 months ago
the problem is that the money is not forthcoming in the heartlands of the sport, hence the disappearance of races and teams.
Jaco0505 6 months ago
The should buy some enormous fans, to ensure crosswinds. Only way to make it interesting
Fignon 6 months ago
Or some fans (people) to stand on the side of the road and watch the event.
Rotorheadmark 5 months ago
Plenty of cycling fans here in Qatar Fignon, just that they don't really care about us and cycling period!
Jancouver 6 months ago
Its a shame the WC will be over there. Someone who doesn't care about the sport just got paid and that's the only reason they will host it ... so sad. I'm not watching ...
get-biggers-boners 6 months ago
TheBean 6 months ago
I think the UCI is trying to globalize cycling. Moving the WC from continent to continent is a good way to do that. The WC in Japan years ago was a beautiful race. I think Qatar is considered Asia, so maybe it's Asia's turn and Qatar paid the most. Either way, I agree that it will be difficult for them to put on a great WC race. And, it seems doubtful people will travel to spectate. Bummer news.
timwdavid 6 months ago
who asked them to globalise cycling?
TheBean 6 months ago
The riders ask for larger salaries. Larger salaries come from larger marketing target demographics. Larger demographics are most easily attained by expanding into untapped markets (i.e. increasing the fan base). Someone has to pay for it all, and the oil-rich nations of the Middle East have more than enough money to increase revenue in cycling many times over. Think about it, who would you rather have sponsor you? One choice is a bicycle company with $600M in revenue (Trek). The other is an oil conglomerate with a stream of revenue that is literally 1,000 times larger. A single oil company could easily pay more than every current cycling sponsor for every team at every level of racing, combined. Though the scenery and classic feel of the Arab cycling scene is pretty lame, anyone would be a fool to shun the potential those nations' financial contributions.
get-biggers-boners 6 months ago
In case anyone in Qatar is listening I'd love to go to the world championships. Don't listen to the racist small minded boneheads.
TheBean 5 months ago
I'd love to go to the world championships, as well. The fact that I would rather do so just about any place other than a featureless desert in a nation that has only one liquor store does not make me a racist or small-minded.
get-biggers-boners 5 months ago
Uh oh their money is no good here. This sport needs money but not arab money. Sounds racist to me.
TheBean 5 months ago
Not at all. Arab money is as good as any other - and the Arab nations have a LOT of it. I would like to see Arab sponsors, Arab racers contesting on the world stage, Arab women's cycling, etc. But, the landscape of Qatar and Qatar's cycling history are no where near as beautiful or rich as many other nations. I understand beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thus is very subjective, but I doubt there are many cycling fans who marvel at the grandeur of the Tour of Qatar or cycling enthusiasts planning their next tour vacation to Qatar - compared to places like the Dolomites, South of France, the Colorado Rockies, etc.
Strydz 5 months ago
get-biggers-boners I think the main problem most have is the fact it will be a pan flat boring course which will lead to 200 k of boring racing with a bunch gallop at the end. Some might have a problem with who is hosting it but I think the majority do not, they just want a exciting race.
OffTheBackAdam 5 months ago
You're an idiot, as your nom de plume shows. If you've noticed, no complaints have been raised about the current races in Qatar & Dubai as being wrong. They're fine, because temperatures there currently are pleasant, Dubai's peaking in the low 20Cs, Qatar a bit lower. Now, what's it like in October? "The month of October is characterized by falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 37°C to 32°C over the course of the month, exceeding 40°C or dropping below 30°C only one day in ten" Fancy racing 250Km in those temps and in October? The bidding process for the football WC, was blatantly rigged, no governing body in its right mind should have sanctioned the event being held there in July, with average temps around 40C, the fact they're moving the dates into the winter months, shows this. It also shows, I'd suggest, that there was no intention of holding them in the summer in the first place. If we raised complaints about a World Cup event, being held in Norway, in December, would you accuse us of racism? Get back under your rock and stay there.
ycpjoh 5 months ago
Things like this help to develop cycling culture in place which don't historically have it. Qatar has put on the annual Tour for nearly 10 years now - they've stuck to it and continued to support the sport, so I guess this is a reward from the UCI. If Europe wants to keep cycling then go ahead but with the number of smaller races folding it's clear that it can't be sustained on the same level. Putting aside the WCs why not let other places take up the slack by hosting events. I live in Dubai and have seen cycling growing here over the last 5 years. A few years ago they didn't even let expats go into races. Now we have dedicated cycling training facilities, several expat teams that compete against the locals in weekly races for seven months of the year, a 2.2 Asia Tour race that is open to local teams and now the Dubai Tour will further increase the profile and respect for cyclists and the sport. The UCI needs to continue globalising the sport. Anyone who objects should put forward their own plan to sustain sponsorships, ensure wide TV coverage and maintain cycling's place in major sporting events like the Olympics.
TheBean 5 months ago
Good points. It's interesting to read an insider's point of view.
Mondrian 5 months ago
Globalization of cycling is good if it translates to more cyclists, fans, sponsors in untapped markets, however at the moment it looks like more revenue for UCI and a couple of mickey mouse tours with 5 star hotels. What I would have liked to see is a natural progression of countries like Qatar from grass roots to elite ranks. Currently there is no participation of Qatar, Oman or Dubai in Asia's continental circuit (Asiatour)- either as a team or sponsor or even an event organizer yet amazingly UCI grants them a 2.HC event even though the course is short (km), flat (bar a climb in Oman) and only a few days long. And yes UCI is bending over backwards by breaking its own rules as organizers are obliged to also invite the top three Asian team to 1.1 & 2.1 races (i.e. Dubai) which they did not. So how can cycling be sustainable in that region when little attention is paid to development at grass routes and the lower ranks?
Reg Oakley 5 months ago
It is only the track Worlds that represents a consistent equal competition. The road champs is a grandioze carnival that cant be sold as bringing a worthy winner anymore. As a sporting event, it is past it's sell by date IMO.
get-biggers-boners 5 months ago
seriously are you an idiot?
Reg Oakley 5 months ago
As an answer to the question you ask, the reply is no. My parents who were married to each other, taught me to have a less abusive nature than you.
TheBean 5 months ago
Difficult to take anything seriously from a guy who chooses a reference to an erection as his moniker.