The Ladies Tour of Qatar will also be cancelled for next season

The UCI has confirmed that the 2017 Tour of Qatar and the Ladies Tour of Qatar will not go ahead, citing difficulties in finding financial backing.

The men’s race, which has run since 2002, was recently promoted to WorldTour status during the UCI’s reshuffle of racing’s top tier, but will now not go ahead due to the funding difficulties.

The Women’s WorldTour equivalent will also not be held for the same reasons, and strikes a blow to the UCI’s hopes of promoting cycling in the Middle East, particularly after a heavily criticised World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October 2016.

The loss of the races will see a significant gap develop in the calendar for the male riders, with the Tour of Qatar usually slotting between the Dubai Tour and the Tour of Oman. Those races run January 31 to February 4 and February 14 to 17 respectively next season.

A statement on the UCI website read: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has today received notice of the cancellation of both the Tour of Qatar and Ladies Tour of Qatar. It is understood the decision follows difficulty attracting sponsor financial support.”

The races have been held in conjunction with Tour de France organisers ASO since 2002, with Tom Boonen the record winner with four victories, and Dutchwoman Kisten Wild achieving the same in women’s race.

The men’s race has often served as a decent warm-up to the Belgian Classics for the big one-day riders, but they will have to look elsewhere for some pre-Classics racing in 2017.