Abu Dhabi and Dubai cycling Tours merge to become UAE Tour from 2019 in a bid to 'create a bigger impact'

Both races have attracted some of the finest riders in world cycling, including Cavendish, Viviani and Ewan

Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 21, 2018.  First stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour 2018, Al Fahim Stage.  Alexander Kristoff raises his hand in victory.
Victor Besa / The National
Reporter:  Amith Passela
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The Abu Dhabi Tour and Dubai Tour have been merged and will run as the UAE Tour from 2019 following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Council on Wednesday.

According to the general secretaries of the two councils, Aref Al Awani and Saeed Hareb, the UAE Tour will consist of seven stages and make a greater impact while retaining its UCI World Tour status.

“It is time to elevate the success we have had from both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours to another level,” Abu Dhabi Sports Council general secretary Al Awani said after the signing of the MoU at the ADSC headquarters.

“The nature of the UAE has always been to have a united passion. The instructions have come from our leadership that we should utilise the success that we have got as one nation.”

Al Awani revealed that the first step was to change the name on the UCI World Tour as a unified event on the calendar of world cycling events.

“It will be a seven-day, seven-stage and that will allow us to pass through all the Emirates,” he said. “This is our aim and we hope that all the Emirates participate in it. The distance will vary from stage to stage but in seven Emirates we have more places to discover.

“We have approached the UCI to get the name changed and for the approval for the seven stages. The only thing that is under discussion is how to fit the race in the best possible time of the year.

“We usually submit two dates with priority one and two, and it is on the reasonable days of the year when we have very attractive climate which is February.

“We want to keep the same February schedule we have had both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours. The UCI will decide on the dates.”

The organisers of the UAE Tour will continue to partner Velon who work closely with the World Tour, Pro-Continental Teams, race organisers, broadcasters and the international cycling media.

“There shouldn’t be any impact on the cycling teams coming to the UAE because we will continue to work with Velon to have the success what we had before. They are managing most of the teams,” Al Awani said.

“We will continue to have our race attractive for sprinters, climbers and time trials. Our aim is to have teams locally and work more to include continental teams.

“Tomorrow is the last day to submit our papers to UCI and so very soon it will be done. We will have the announcement of how the tour will be like, the new logo, new trophy and dates by September or October. Our aim is to be one of the best races in the World Tour.”

The Dubai Tour was founded in 2014, with the Abu Dhabi Tour launched the following year. The Abu Dhabi Tour quickly gained increased status and was added to the UCI World Tour in 2017 - the third edition of the race.

The Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours have both attracted some of the finest riders in world cycling, including Britain's Mark Cavendish, Italian Olympic gold medallist Elia Viviani, and Caleb Ewan of Australia.

While the UAE Tour is not limited as a cycling event, Hareb suggested the expanded race will be a more financially viable project.

“It’s not less or more on the financial resources for us but more impact in terms on the value of the event in terms of the media coverage,” he said.

“The Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours were both successful, now the UAE Tour is stronger to create a bigger impact all-round and provide the worldwide television audience to discover new areas and locations in the country.”