The Tour of Qatar could return in 2018, after Mohammed Al-Kuwari, the new president of the Qatar Cycling and Triathlon Federation, said the stage race is needed to help the tiny Gulf country to develop stronger national teams.
This year’s race was cancelled in late December, with the UCI citing a difficulty in attracting sponsor financial support. The race was added to the expanded 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar but its loss has left a hole in the early-season race calendar.
News of the Tour of Qatar's cancellation came just a few weeks after Qatar was criticized for the small crowds attending the UCI Road World Championships in October, but the race looks set to return after a 12-month hiatus.
"During the coming period, the Federation is planning to organise strong local events in a bid to discover local talents to represent the Qatari national teams," Kuwari told the Qatar News Agency in an interview according to reports by the AFP news agency in French and English.
He added: "Among the international events that the Federation will organize next year, the most important will be the Tour of Qatar.”
Although there was no specific mention of the women’s race, Kuwari said there was a “need” to create a Qatari women’s cycling team to compete at international level.
The Tour of Qatar was first held in 2002, with the women’s race created in 2009. Eddy Merckx played a key part in the organisation, with technical support coming from Tour de France organiser ASO.
Riders used the flat, wind-effected stages to train and prepare for the spring Classics. Previous winners include Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Mark Cavendish, who won the 2016 edition of the race.
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