Dubai Tour countdown – cycling in the spotlight - 3rd February 2016 @rcssport - @stedicia

With less than one month until the Dubai Tour,
attention turns to Dubai as a major cycling and sport destination
Stage 1 named Dubai Silicon Oasis Stage
Dubai, 7 January 2016 – The countdown to the Dubai Tour is well underway, with less than a month until the first stage on 3rd February. As worldwide excitement mounts for the 2016 edition of the four-stage race, it’s time to focus on the fast-growing culture of sport within the area, and the amazing facilities for cycling, both for residents and visitors to the area.

Dubai is a young country that is quickly climbing the ranking of the world’s best sporting cities. In some sports, such as golf, Dubai is already a leading destination for international events and tourism. And thanks to the Dubai Tour, stakeholders believe that in 20 years cycling tourism could be on the same level. High-end tailored packages to Dubai (flights, accommodation, facilities) are fast becoming a valid alternative to the traditional training locations in the Mediterranean and Pacific: Astana, one of the UCI top-five ranked teams in 2015, trained in Dubai last year, as well as more and more professional and enthusiast cyclists from across the world.

Along with the high profile that the Dubai Tour helps to generate, a number of events, infrastructure projects and initiatives help equip Dubai as a leading cycling destination.

The professionals racing in the Dubai Tour is a great inspiration to enthusiast riders. The largest amateur cycling event in Middle East (Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge) is also held in Dubai, and last December it attracted almost 2,000 participants. Even during the Ramadan, Dubai hosts a sport event: the “Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament”, a series of competitions across a range of sports, including cycling.

A significant underlying factor in the popularity of these events, and the increased sporting activity across Dubai is the “Dubai Pulse”, the physical activity programme powered by the Dubai Sports Council. It has contributed to a 7% rise in the number of Dubai residents who regularly engage in physical activities: so the fans become active people and the venues will not turn into “white elephants”.

Another contributing element to this successful strategy focused is the average age of Dubai residents: 63% are aged between 20-39 years old, and teenagers (10-19) represent another 8% of the population. But the most important part is played by the international visitors who make up 90% of the attendance at all Dubai sports events.

The most successful existing cycle paths are Nad al Sheba and Al Qudra; both of which are due to be extended further in the coming years. Currently Nad al Sheba provides short loops of 4, 6 and 8km, plus a 650m path dedicated only to children. The Al Qudra cycle path features longer distance loops of 18 and 50km (150km in total). By 2030, the Road Traffic Authority intends to complete 900km of dedicated cycle paths and bike lanes in Dubai.

Last November, the Deloitte report “Economic Impact of Sport in Dubai” quantified for the first time the economic impact of sport in Dubai (US$1.763bn generated by sport in Dubai each year - gross expenditure; $670m originates from overseas - economic impact) and the key role of cycling and the Dubai Tour to climb the ranking of the world’s top sports hosts.

Saeed Hareb, Dubai Sports Council General Secretary, said: “We have long recognised that sport plays an important role in the growth and appeal of any global city and have worked strategically to invest in resources and capabilities across the sector. Cycling is part of this vision: we are not interested in one-off events but in regular annual meeting and Dubai Tour is part of our offering that includes top class rugby, golf, horse-racing and tennis”.

Dubai is now excited about the approaching third edition of Dubai Tour, the 2.HC four-day race won in 2014 by the American Taylor Phinney and in 2015 by the Manxman Mark Cavendish. In 2016 the race runs from 3rd to 6th February, with 16 teams at the start including 10 UCI WorldTeams, three UCI Professional Continental teams, two UCI Continental teams and the UAE National Selection. Each team will start the Dubai Tour with eight riders.

We are happy to announce that Stage 1 of the Dubai Tour will be sponsored by Dubai Silicon Oasis, and will from now on be named the Dubai Silicon Oasis Stage.