The 2013 edition of the Tour of Qatar will be it's twelfth so travelling to the middle east and enduring soaring temperatures are nothing new to the modern peloton but the race hasn't changed much and is generally regarded as a little more than a marketing gimmick by most cycling fans. It's the second race on the WorldTour calendar which means it practically screams 'training race' and that's basically the essence of it. Taken victory here would obviously be sweet, but I doubt any protour rider makes it their 'season goal'. It doesn't make for a great spectacle either, largely down to the lack of scenery and lack of gradient - indeed Qatar is one of the flattest countries on the planet with it's highest point a mere 85 metres above sea level - this essentially creates a week long stage race that's decided in the sprints, there isn't much here for a General Classification rider to get their teeth stuck into and the race generally becomes a tired repeat of sprint finishes day after day - the initial excitement of the final 400 metres from stage 1 soon wears off. Occasionally some rest bite may come in the form of echelons. A pan flat country means plenty of wind and sometimes this can create a glimmer of hope for the rouleurs and GC riders who have made the lengthy journey to the desert. If there is no wind, then it's likely to be a boring race all round.
So why give Qatar the opportunity to host the World Road Race Championships? A race of high prestige the World's has only been held outside of it's European homeland on six occasions since 1927. Fundamentally Europe is the base of 'Global' cycling, which may seem strange but expansion is only a relatively recent thing in cycling and most of the history, the tales, the myth and legend of cycling has been solely created within Europe. Handing the race to another continent is clearly a big deal - even to the likes of Australia and Colombia who also have a rich cycling history. So Qatar? Well, it's almost unthinkable to some. If ever there was a crime in cycling tradition, this would likely be it.
|Echelons Make Or Break|
The Tour Of Qatar
Many may think this is a little harsh - perhaps Qatar has a huge cycling fanbase to satisfy, perhaps they are on the cusp of a cycling revolution? Well, No. Not really. There isn't really anything for the public to 'support' over there - Qatar failed to qualify a single rider for the Worlds last year, there is no idolised rider, not even a single rogue. Still, everybody likes to line the roadside to watch the cycling don't they? Again, not really. In fact the Tour of Qatar is often noteworthy only because of its lack of scenery and more importantly to this point, lack of fans. The roadsides are overwhelmingly empty. The silence deafening. The crowd numbers have actually decreased in recent years and barring the odd local school trip or government officials most of the fans are expats from other parts of the world.
|Qatar's Cycling Team Failed To Qualify For The 2012 Worlds.|
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