Of the numerous cycling events to take place in the Middle East in the early stages of the season, the Tour of Qatar has the longest history – but is the appeal of the race wearing a little thin?
As the race approaches its 15th edition, the number of WorldTour teams scheduled to ride the race has dropped from 13 this year to just eight in 2016, organiser ASO confirmed.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
But in 2016, Terpstra and Boonen’s team, Etixx-Quick Step, has not made the start list, suggesting that the Belgian team decided not to send a squad to the race.
Fellow WorldTour teams Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing, Movistar, Team Sky, FDJ, Orica-GreenEdge and IAM Cycling also do not return in 2016, having been part of this year’s race.
Ag2r La Mondiale and LottoNL-Jumbo are the two top level teams to enter the race having not competed this year, with Dimension Data having taken part as MTN-Qhubeka, a Pro Continental team, in 2015.
Katusha, whose sprinter Alexander Kristoff won three stages in Qatar in 2015, return alongside Astana, Lampre-Merida, Giant-Alpecin and BMC as 10 lower tier teams get their chance to race in the desert.
Teams for 2016 Tour of Qatar (February 8-12)
Drapac, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty Groupe Gobert, Cult Energy-Stolting Group, Ag2r La Mondiale, Fortuneo Vital Concept, Giant-Alpecin, Bora-Argon 18, Lampre-Merida, Astana, LottoNL-Jumbo, Roompot-Oranje Peloton, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Katusha, Dimension Data, Skydive Dubai, BMC, United Healthcare
Teams for 2016 Ladies Tour of Qatar (February 2-5)
Ale Cipollini, Australia-AIS, Boels-Dolmans, Canyon SRAM, China Chongming-Liv-Champion System, Cylance, Equipe de France, Hitec Products, Italian Cycling Federation, Lares-Waowdeals, Orica-AIS, Rabo-Liv, Liv-Plantur, Unitedhealthcare, Wiggle