The Qatar Cycling Federation this week launched its own women's cycling development team with an aim at fielding the squad at the 2016 UCI road world championships in Doha, and the organisation has hired retired road and mountain bike pro Pia Sundstedt of Finland as head coach.
According to Doha Stadium Plus, an English language Qatari sports news organisation, the 22-rider team will be made up of riders between the ages of 13 and 17, and has already started training near the Losail International Circuit.
“We tried to start a team in 2005, prior to the Doha Asian Games, but couldn’t find an Arabic-speaking coach. But the younger generation has proved they don’t necessarily need Arabic coaches to do well," QCF General Secretary Majed Al Naimi said.
“We’ve hired former Finnish rider Pia Sundstedt to train them. They’ve only started and have a very long way to go. Our eventual aim is to have them ready for the ’16 Worlds.”
Sundstedt wrote on her personal blog earlier this month confirming she has taken the position.
"Qatar has a men’s team, they have boys, but until now there has not been any girls riding their bikes. This has now changed. As some of you might remember, the cycling federation started a project last spring. Our goal was to get a group of girls who wants (sic) to ride their bikes. We have now reached the next step of the project. We have a group of 10 girls and training can start.
"Cycling has been my life and it is my life and now I can share my experience and knowledge to these girls by being their coach."