In February 2019, the first ever UAE Tour began, taking a professional peloton of more than one hundred riders on a whistlestop tour of the Emirates across seven stages of racing. Won by Olympic gold medalist Primož Roglič in its augural edition, the race has since continued to attract the very best, with two-time Tour de France winner and UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogačar taking overall victory at last year’s tour.
The 2022 UAE Tour - 20-26 February
Cycling fans now eagerly await the fourth edition of the one and only WorldTour race in the Middle East, organised by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which is set to kickstart the 2022 UCI WorldTour racing calendar with a bang. A host of household names in the sport are expected to race a route of more than 1000km in length, which will see the riders cross a diverse mix of UAE landscapes - from rolling desert dunes, to city scapes, waterfronts and alpine-esque mountains. This year’s tour also coincides with another significant event for the Emirates - Expo 2020 Dubai - a world expo running from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 that will host the start of Stage 6 of the race.
With a broadcast audience of millions from across the five continents, the UAE Tour is capturing the attention of the world’s cyclists, and supercharging the growth of the sport in the region as a result.
Abu Dhabi - Asia’s first UCI Bike City
The race arrives in the midst of a new wave of cycle tourism to the region. Abu Dhabi in particular has quickly become a world-class cycling destination, courtesy of (in part) its expansive network of purpose built cycle tracks and urban cycling networks.
A 28km waterside cycling track at Al Hudayriyat Island and 40km of cycling track at Al Wathba in the desert has spawned a strong road cycling community in the area. This has, in turn, encouraged more than fifty community cycle races in the past few years alone. Plans are also in place to build Velodrome Hudayriyat – a track cycling hub with a spectator capacity of 3,500, which will further enhance Hudayriyat Island’s offering.
In addition, Abu Dhabi’s existing network of 300km of cycle-travel paths is also soon to be extended to 1000km in the near future. Part of this extension will comprise the Abu Dhabi Loop - a 109km segregated cycle-way linking key sight-seeing destinations around the city.
As a result of this progress, The Union Cycliste Internationale (the sport’s governing body) recently announced that Abu Dhabi has received the prestigious UCI Bike City label. The award was granted for the region’s commitment to hosting international cycling events, promoting the sport across the community, and developing cycling infrastructure and programmes that support the UCI’s cycling for all strategy.
The UCI award also spurred on the creation of Bike Abu Dhabi, a new enabling platform designed to spearhead the emirate’s long-term cycling ambitions to become a leading global cycling hub. Bike Abu Dhabi aims to further promote cycling growth as a health and leisure activity, as a sustainable means of transport, and as a competitive sport for amateurs and professionals.
The fourth edition of the UAE Tour will no doubt serve to further bolster the country’s impressive cycling credentials and introduce a growing wave of cycling tourists to the region. To learn more about the UAE Tour, visit www.theuaetour.com.