The Dubai Sports Council has announced that the gulf Emirate will host a stage race in the spring of 2014 as part of a long-term plan to help develop cycling in the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai has watched its neighbours Qatar and Oman develop their own races in recent years and now want their own "bigger and better" event. The final date and the length of the race have still to be decided.
"Dubai always does things in the best manner possible and I assure you that the Dubai Tour will be a force. It will be something greater than what's been seen anywhere else in the world," Rashid Al Awadhi, the head of marketing at the Dubai Sports Council told Cyclingnews and other media at the evening event.
"This is to show that we're serious about cycling. Our objective is to create champions here in the UAE and we'd like to create the next Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjedal or Vincenzo Nibali out of the UAE. That's our long term goal. We've got to create the environment for that to happen, so the races are important, academies and creating the want from children to get into cycling."
The Dubai Tour was announced and a Versace-designed blue and yellow race jersey was unveiled during the official opening of the Dubai Cycling Course - a 68km bike circuit and facility in the desert so local riders and tourists can ride safely in Dubai. Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport helped organise the event and is expected to work on the organisation of the Dubai Tour.
Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjedal, Vincenzo Nibali and Tony Martin all attended the event after spending New Year in Dubai. Martin competed against a race horse at the opening of the Dubai Cycling Course but was well beaten in the one-kilometre race. Contador, Hesjedal and Nibali also raced over a kilometre, with Contador securing his first "win" of the 2013 season.
"It was only one kilometre but hard and fast for the first week of January. It feels good to win but I think the more important thing is that cycling has come alive in Dubai," Contador said, hinting he would be at the start of the Dubai Tour in 2014.
"I think it'll be a beautiful race. They could include a team time trial, an individual time trial and of course for the sprinters there are lots of roads. I don't know about the mountain, maybe next year they will have built a one-kilometre mountain. If it's in the first part of the year it could be good for training for the rest of the season."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.