Cycling to add to the capital's growing portfolio

The organisers look at the positive side despite the schedule with the Emirates International Cycling Cup clashing with the Abu Dhabi golf championship.

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This month's second Emirates International Cycling Cup is scheduled to coincide with the third day of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on January 23 but the organisers denied that would affect their event. On the contrary, Mohammed al Mahmoud, the general secretary of the emirate's sport council, has said the fixture clash should not pose logistical hurdles and the double-header will only serve to illustrate Abu Dhabi's ever-expanding sports events portfolio. "This race is a continuation of our strategy to host a wide cross-section of international sports events," said al Mahmoud. "Cycling compliments our other sports events and the national team will benefit from challenging 18 other international teams. "Hosting all the teams and finding a date within the global cycling calendar which did not clash with anything else was not easy, but fans of golf are not necessarily fans of cycling so I do not think there will be a clash."

As many as 114 riders from 19 international teams have signed up to tackle the 125 kilometre road race which will run along the city's Corniche, with Estonia's four-time Tour de France stage winner, Team CKT's Jaan Kirsipuu, the firm favourite. With riders from countries as geographically diverse as South Africa, Nigeria and Germany preparing to lock horns in the professional race, al Mahmoud revealed that requests from amateur cycling enthusiasts in the UAE had forced organisers into a format re-think. "We have had so many requests that we are thinking about implementing an amatuer race," said al Mahmoud. "We are trying to work it out and there are no major obstacles. It should run two hours before the professional race so that those competitors can also watch the professional race afterwards; by early next week we'll decide."