The inaugural Bike Abu Dhabi Festival is taking place in the capital this weekend as the emirate pushes ahead with its ambition to become a leading global cycling hub.
The festival is the latest initiative under the Bike Abu Dhabi platform, which was launched by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, in November 2021.
As part of the festival, the emirate is also hosting the fifth UCI Urban Cycling World Championships, which is being held in the region for the first time, until Sunday, and the first ever Bike Abu Dhabi Gran Fondo, which will take place on Saturday.
The 150-kilometre one-day Gran Fondo race is open to UAE clubs and amateurs, starting in Abu Dhabi and finishing in Al Ain.
A Dh2 million prize pool for the amateur event has been set and will be split equally between men and women.
The world’s top urban cyclists will also compete in the BMX Freestyle Park and in the BMX Freestyle Flatland and trials.
In BMX Freestyle, competition categories will include Women Elite and Men Elite, with riders aged 15 and over. In the trials, there will be a national team competition as well as rainbow jerseys for the winners of the individual categories.
The hosting of the Bike Abu Dhabi Festival comes a year after Abu Dhabi received the prestigious “Bike City” label from Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sport cycling.
Commenting on the launch of the festival, Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We are extremely proud to host the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships in 2022. After receiving the prestigious UCI Bike City label in 2021, we now enhance our portfolio of world-class cycling events and entertainment offerings in the region and look forward to showcasing, to the world, what Abu Dhabi and the UAE has to offer, for both amateur and professional cyclists.”
The city was the first in Asia to receive the distinction in November 2021. Others with the status include Bergen, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Paris.
In addition to competitive events, the Bike Abu Dhabi Festival will host several cycling events and activities for the community, for all ages and abilities.
Building cycling infrastructure in the city
Last year, Abu Dhabi announced a series of new measures and facilities to encourage more people to take up cycling.
Planned infrastructure projects include a new 109km designated cycling track called the Abu Dhabi Loop and a 3,500-seat velodrome, called Velodrome Hudayriyat, to be built on Hudayriyat Island.
The Loop will be a segregated cycleway linking key destinations around the city and the 12,000-square-metre velodrome will offer track racing.
In total, the emirate plans to extend its current 300km cycling network to more than 1,000km.
The emirate has long been a hub for world-class cycling events and community cycling, with 28km of cycling track at Hudayriyat Island and a total of 40km at Al Wathba.
Both sites act as cycling hubs for groups, solo cyclists and families. Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track on Yas Island also opens its doors twice a week for cyclists of all levels to train for free.