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The Rise of Cycling in the Middle East

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The Rise of Cycling in the Middle East

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Cycling in the middle east

March 19th, 2015


The Middle East is growing in popularity for pro-cycling tours for many reasons. This year a new stage race in Abu Dhabi will be held in October for the first time following successful tours of Dubai, Oman and Qatar in previous years. The weather alone, during our cold European winters, must be an allure, as well as the flat terrain but what else has seen this success in races in the Gulf and what is the female riders’ opinion on racing in place with such different views on a woman’s position in society?

BMC sport director John Lelangue who was involved in the creation and design of the circuit in Doha explains the thinking behind expanding cycling’s reach to the Middle East:

“Cycling is an global sport, an international sport that you can practise anywhere in the world and we saw that is was coming from Australia, America, Africa, Asia and it’s a good thing,” Lelange added. “You see more and more that the countries, which were the historical countries of cycling, have to fight with new counties.”
But what’s it like for the female riders, competing in a country where women are not viewed equal? The Ladies Tour of Qatar, is now into its seventh year and Dutch rider, Ellen van Dijk explains why she enjoys racing here:

“For us, its really special to ride in the Middle East, this is the only time of year that we race here. I think it’s extra special, as the culture here is very different for men and women. Women are maybe a bit underestimated here [so] it’s great to show what women can do here.”

I look forward to following the race this Autumn and would personally love to have a go riding that course. Probably need to become a pro first though – oh well!

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