Qatar pitching for Tour de France Grand Depart

Gulf nation wants to host event in 2016

by Mark Appleton   July 25, 2011  

Doha Qatar.jpg

Despite the size of their country, they think big in Qatar. After bagging the biggest single-sport tournament of them all, the World Cup, the Qataris have, apparently, set their sights on hosting a Tour de France Grand Depart in 2016.

With the UCI Asia’s Tour of Qatar organised by ASO already firmly established on the calendar - the tenth edition was held this year - the tiny Gulf state does at least have some experience of hosting professional cycling.

Qatar Airways is also the official airline of the Tour and it was aboard one of the airline’s jets, rather than the usual TGV, that the riders made their way to the final stage in Paris over the weekend.

However, whether teams, riders and sponsors would accept the Grand Depart being removed from a European setting and deposited in the searing heat and high humidity of a desert kingdom in the height of summer may be dependent on the petro-dollar incentives. The Qataris have proved in the past that they have the wealth to change the mindset of many a naysayer.

Fans, on the other hand, are likely to have little enthusiasm for the idea of one of cycling’s great spectacles being held in a different time zone and in a location that would require considerable expenditure to reach.

But the Qataris are nothing if not ambitious and a spokesperson close to the nation's rulers said: "His highness (the Emir) has had this idea in mind for quite a while. They have started the discussions and the process."

As for the inevitable questions about how athletes would be expected to perform in extremes of heat and humidity the source said: "I think there are options to manage it. We can have a small prologue, not too long, with water sprayed at certain points. There is no technical problem with doing it here.”

11 user comments

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plain brown envelopes?


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
26th July 2011 - 7:35


Insane. Utter madness.

It's over 40 degrees celsius by 10am in July. Overnight is above 30C.

Having lived in nearby Abu Dhabi nearly five years even after a few days in the UK I am knocked out by the heat for at least a week when I come back.

The only way it would work is for a totally indoor course.

I don't know exactly what they have in Qatar but a big exhibition center could probably be adapted for a 4-5km course which could be used in a short prologue.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [698 posts]
26th July 2011 - 7:58


It the way things are going. The gulf states have been a building site for the last couple of decades, turning their once dusty coastal regions into a new home for the world's richest fraction-of-a-percent, so they'll have somewhere nice to live now that they are pulling their money out of Europe and North America. The last step is to buy our culture and sports, to give the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Fred Goodwin something to watch, other than currency and shares markets tanking.

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
26th July 2011 - 9:13


The last time I looked, Qatar was quite a long way from, and didn't border France!

Besides - once the oil runs out, they won't be rich any more Wink

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [69 posts]
26th July 2011 - 9:50


The riders had better behave themselves - it must be tricky in a sprint with one hand removed.

posted by Coleman [331 posts]
26th July 2011 - 9:53


Wouldnt be good for sponsors, there was literally 10 spectators for the ToQ this year.

posted by Stefan [60 posts]
26th July 2011 - 10:38


I had a dream last night that Geraint Thomas was beheaded at the Qatar prologue for a positive test for cocaine. No word of a lie.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7857 posts]
26th July 2011 - 11:01


dave_atkinson wrote:
I had a dream last night that Geraint Thomas was beheaded at the Qatar prologue for a positive test for cocaine. No word of a lie.

Dreaming about your own decapitation is usually a sign of extreme anxiety. I wouldn't like to say what dreaming about someone else's decapitation might indicate...

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
26th July 2011 - 11:07


Ridiculous. Just plain ridiculous.

posted by JonSP [60 posts]
26th July 2011 - 11:19


I was with a sword, like the special move in Barbarian for the Spectrum. Y'know, pirouette and slash.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7857 posts]
26th July 2011 - 11:27


I reckon the UCI are more than corrupt enough to go for it.

And you can get Barbarian for the iPhone now too...

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [303 posts]
26th July 2011 - 12:27

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