Challenging routes and stages in and around Abu Dhabi have been unveiled for November’s US$1million Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions.For the first time, will pit individual winners and teams from the sport’s three most prestigious European tour events into direct competition.
The ten-day, three-stage 212 kilometre event will see individual and team champions from cycling’s golden trio of European races: Italy’s Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and Spain’s La Vuelta, as well as five wildcard teams, vie for the inaugural title of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions in the Middle East. The race has the official support of the International Association of Cycling Teams.
“This is another powerful component in Abu Dhabi’s evolution into an international, major events destination. Abu Dhabi will now join the international professional cycling circuit as the biggest ‘Grand Slam’ event for this popular sport. The event represents a major commitment to align the UAE capital with the most renowned strategic partners to fulfil the vision of the country’s President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Crown Prince and Executive Council Chairman, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to position the emirate as a destination of global standing,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
“We are building an impressive portfolio of top-tier global sporting events in Abu Dhabi. The Formula One Grand Prix announcement made international headlines earlier this month, and we believe the Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions will emulate that success.”
The Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions is to be held annually in the UAE capital for the next five years and will be the grand finale in the sport’s international calendar. This November, cycling’s elite will compete, in front of a spectator turnout anticipated to run into hundreds of thousands, across three stages: a tasking mountain race through the passes of Jebel Hafeet, the emirate’s highest point at nearly 4,000 feet which backdrops the garden city of Al Ain, and two flat stages through the capital’s streets which sandwich the mountain leg.
The opening stage will follow a 99 kilometre route that starts and ends at the prestigious seven star Emirates Palace Hotel overlooking the Persian Gulf from Abu Dhabi’s signature Corniche. It will loop around Abu Dhabi island, and three times around the Corniche centre to showcase the capital’s key sightseeing attractions.
Stage two - the mountain race - encompasses an 89 kilometre route starting in the heart of Al Ain city circling the downtown area, passing Al Ain Zoo and then climbing up Jebel Hafeet’s winding passes.
The final 24 kilometre individual time-trial stage is a showcase of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche starting and ending at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
The seven-figure purse on offer is almost double that of July’s Tour de France, the most prestigious date on the cycling calendar and traditionally the one event that crosses the sport’s boundaries and attracts global publicity - a feat Abu Dhabi aims to equal.
“The Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions has already generated a lot of attention as it’s the first event of its kind and it’s happening in the Middle East,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. “The routes will cover a lot of Abu Dhabi’s geography so it’s great publicity for the whole emirate - it will highlight the duality of our beautiful natural areas and ultra-modern urban districts.
“One of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s main criteria in deciding which events to support is the international media impact that be created to build substantial and positive awareness of Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions fits this challenging criteria and we congratulate the organisers for their foresight and determination in bringing this event to fruition.”
Unipublic, the Spanish headquartered international cycling events specialist which has over 17 years experience with high profile events and is the sole owner and organiser of the Spanish La Vuelta race, will be responsible for all the event’s technical components including route design and planning, appointment of judges, race logistics and management in line with the sport’s international best practices.
The globally televised Abu Dhabi Cycling Race of Champions will kick-off with a celebratory Pro-Am race - along Abu Dhabi Corniche - which will create a community carnival style event with professional cyclists, amateurs and families participating.
“We anticipate over eight hours of live or delayed broadcast being taken up on a worldwide basis, with a primary emphasis on American and European markets, particularly in Canada, the USA, Latin America, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and France - some of Abu Dhabi’s key tourism target markets,” said Jorge de Sebastian Perez-Manglano, Commercial Director, Unipublic.
“Everyone in the cycling world cannot wait to ride into Abu Dhabi and begin preparations for the world’s richest cycling race.”
With the competing teams only being confirmed upon conclusion of the European races, organisers and cycling enthusiasts across the globe will be watching May’s Giro d’Italia, July’s summer spectacular the Tour de France, and September’s La Vuelta, with added interest to see who’ll be making up the Abu Dhabi field come November 1st.
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