Cycling legend and former road world champion Mark Cavendish thrilled cycling fans this morning by racing and winning the very first Abu Dhabi to Al Ain Classic.
The event saw 120 professional and amateur riders join Race Ambassador, Cavendish, on the 190km course that started at ADNOC HQ in Abu Dhabi. The star-studded peloton was waved off by Commander in Chief of Abu Dhabi Police H.E. Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, H.E. Dr. Mugheer Al Khail Chairman of Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, H.E. Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and Sultan Al Dhaheri, General Manager of Etisalat Abu Dhabi. The race finished in the beautiful setting of Al Jahili Park in the garden city of Al Ain.
Commenting on the weekend’s race, H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of the Abu Dhabi - Al Ain Classic. This event was the first of its kind to take place in the UAE. 2017 has created a good foundation.
“The quality of both professional and amateur entries was extremely high, and we intend to build on this to become one of the UAE’s great races. The Classic and the Family Cycling Festival was a great way for Abu Dhabi Cycling Club to be part of the UAE’s 46th National Day celebrations. We hope that everyone who took part had an enjoyable day and hopefully it has encouraged new cyclists to try our fantastic sport.”
Speaking about his victory, Cavendish said: “It was an incredible day of cycling which was made even sweeter by the win. It was great to compete with such an accomplished group of riders, both professional and amateur. I always love cycling in Abu Dhabi and I can’t wait for the tour next year.”
In celebration of National Day, Olympian and the UAE’s fastest road cyclist Yousif Mirza, of UAE Team Emirates, was specially selected to wear the number 46. Mirza finished a very close second to Cavendish, followed by fellow UAE Team Emirate rider Roberto Ferrari who finished in third position.
Mirza added: “I felt honoured to have 46 as my race number and represent UAE Team Emirates on National Day weekend. To ride in a professional event like this on home soil was a real treat and it was very encouraging to see such a buzz around my sport in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.”
Roisin Thomas of Ireland was the top finishing female rider coming in at 28th followed by Natasha Leask of New Zealand who crossed the line in 35th position.
Inspired by the iconic races of Europe, the event was hosted by Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Etisalat, Daman & ADNOC all supported the race with platinum partnerships.
It marked a real first for the UAE and highlighted the surge in popularity for the sport in the Emirates, while also firmly placing Abu Dhabi on the map for both professional and amateur cycling.
To help encourage more people to get into cycling, the Daman Activelife Family Festival took place in the finish area of the race in Al Jahili Park. Attended by hundreds of people of all ages and abilities, it provided the perfect fun and healthy day out on National Day Weekend.