The 2016 Road World Championships in Doha, which runs from October 9 to 16, will make history for being the first in the Middle East, and will suit sprinters and classics riders with its flat and windy parcours.
“It’s one for the sprinters and classics riders,” said Eddy Merckx, who presented the Worlds course on Saturday in Doha.
“It is flat like in Copenhagen and Zolder, but there will likely be wind and could be rain, and the race could split into echelons.”
Brit Lizzie Armitstead won the Ladies Tour of Qatar on Friday thanks to her Boels-Dolman team’s work on the wind-swept stage two over the flat and sandy Persian Gulf state.
Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) has won four editions of the men’s stage race thanks to his skills sprinting and riding in echelons.
The 2016 Worlds will be the first in the Middle East for an event that began in 1927. Given the peninsula state is flat, the organiser worked with what sits the Tour of Qatar apart: wind.
The time trial events are based around Katara to Doha’s north. The elite men’s and women’s, and Under 23’s road races will cover 80km through the sand-swept countryside west and north of Doha before returning to the capital city to race on a 19km circuit.
“The parcours will include an 80km circuit in the windy countryside to include space for the strong elite teams to create echelons,” explained John Lelangue, Director of Sport Operations for the national cycling federation.
“The 19km circuit will run north of Doha through Katara, over nice cobbles, nothing like Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders, then continue on The Pearl. It’s on the seaside, always exposed to the wind and guaranteed to create a hard course for classics riders and sprinters.”
Instead of late September, the Worlds will take an early October date to avoid the Arab summer and to give space for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We have looked over the last 10 years at that October 16 date. It was 35°C in 2014, 36°C in 2013… The average over 10 years was between 31° and 32°. The peak was in 2008, when it hit 38°. That was the exception,” said Lelangue.
“To make sure we are covered, we are working with the UCI and giving attention to the feed zones to make sure every rider gets his feeding. We are also considering motorbikes with water bottles like in the Tour de France or other big races.”