Middle East races will combine to form a seven-stage UAE Tour in 2019 according to local press report
The merger will happen after the sports councils of Dubai and Abu Dhabi signed an agreement, reports The National.
Organisers of this single tour are aiming for it to consist of seven stages and sit in the UCI’s top-tier WorldTour calendar, like the current Abu Dhabi Tour.
The National reports that Abu Dhabi Sports Council general secretary Aref Al Awani said after signing the merger’s memorandum of understanding: “It is time to elevate the success we have had from both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Tours to another level.
“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 says that the UAE Tour will stay within February, and have a course that will attract sprinters and climbers, and feature a time trial.
“It will be a seven-day, seven-stage and that will allow us to pass through all the Emirates. 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.”
Organisers have submitted the relevant paperwork to the UCI for approval, and are hoping to have everything in place by September or October 2018.
“We will continue to have our race attractive for sprinters, climbers and time trials,” said Al Awani. “Our aim is to have teams locally and work more to include continental teams.”
He continued: “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.
“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.”
Al Awani says that they will work with team organisation Velon to ensure that the top squads continue to participate.
The fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour took place over February 21-25 2018, and included three flat stages, a time trial and the final climbing stage to Jebel Hafeet. This year’s edition was won by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
The UCI 2.HC-ranked 2018 Dubai Tour comprised four flat stages and one stage finishing with a climb to Hatta Dam over February 6-10. It was won overall by Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).