World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has announced that the 2016 UCI Road World Championships will be held in Doha, Qatar. However, the 2014 championships could be taken away from Ponferrada in Spain, where organisers have been given 30 days “to meet contractual commitments.”
The announcements were one of several decisions made at meetings in Maastricht this week of the Professional Cycling Council and UCI Management Committee.
The 2016 championships will represent the first time the event will have been held in the Middle East, and just the eighth time since the event began in 1927 that they have been held outside Europe.
With the 2015 edition being held in the United States, it’s also the first time that consecutive editions will have taken place away from Europe.
UCI Sport and Technical Director, Philippe Chevallier, commented: “The management of the Qatar candidature presented an extremely interesting project which incorporated innovative solutions which allowed for the designing of a technically interesting course , we are greatly looking forward to working with them.”
There’s no news yet of what those “technically interesting “ features might be, but Qatar’s flat terrain and strong winds that often blow in from the desert see sprinters dominate in the early season race that’s been held there each year since 2002.
The secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said that the awarding of the championships reflected Qatar’s “Sport for Life” motto. The state will also be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Quoted in the Gulf Times, Shiekh Saoud said: “Apart from the fact that Qatar will be the first country in the Middle East to host the Road World Championships, the most important aspect of the event is the legacy it will create in terms of physical fitness and awareness about protecting the environment.
“As you know cycling is a very healthy way to to stay fit; people who use bicycles on a regular basis are among the fittest.
“We have already built bicycle lanes in Al Waab and in the area around the New Doha International Airport and more will be built in the upcoming areas first. The municipality is also looking into the possibility of introducing bicycle lanes in the older areas,” he added.
Next year’s world championships take place in and around Florence in Tuscany, while the 2015 edition is scheduled for Richmond, Virginia, but Ponferrada in north west Spain risks losing the 2014 event as a result of the financial crisis that is engulfing the country, which has seen central government slash funding for national sporting bodies.
Florence had been suffering similar problems over funding but last week the city government and that of the wider Tuscany region guaranteed a total of €32 million for the event.
The UCI also revealed that it is setting up a working group “to study the implications of hypothetically introducing a ‘salary cap’ into team budgets, as well as training compensation fees,” which would reward teams that develop talent rather than buying it in from elsewhere.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.