The Sultanate of Oman joined the world cycling circuit when it hosted for the first time a round of UCI ProTour from February 14 to 19 in 2010. The Tour of Oman, organised by the Muscat Municipality in co-operation with International Cycling Union (UCI) and Tour de France organisers, saw some of the top professional riders descending on Oman.
Oman’s hosting of this international event will fill a void on the official calendar of the International Cycling Union, which governs the sport.
Oman Air is the Official Carrier of the event. Speaking about Oman Air’s role in facilitating this international event in Oman, Peter Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, says:
“We are extremely happy and proud to be associated with the Tour of Oman which we are sure will become an event to reckon with for the world cycle enthusiasts. The event will greatly help in promoting the Sultanate as a sports and tourist destination. Top professional riders from more than 22 countries are participating in the six-day event that will see the riders as well as the fans travel through the capital city of Muscat and the varied and dramatic topography of Oman.”
The race covers 687 kilometers, or 430 miles, in six daily stages and was flagged off from Al Bahiri road and passing through the beautiful coastal areas, plains and the highlands of the Sultanate while Jabal Akhdhar (Green Mountain), whose height rises to nearly 3,000 metres, will provide a majestic backdrop to the race.
HE Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthi, the President of the Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council said:
“Everyone in Oman is excited and supportive of the event, and are all geared to take part in the excitement. We have a young population and the Tour will inspire and engage them. Tourism is another source of revenue and the Tour of Oman is expected to greatly contribute towards this end. The event also offers a wonderful opportunity for businesses to reach out to the people in the interiors with their products and services.”
Eddy Mercks, one of the best riders of the 20th century and a five-time Tour de France winner (between 1969-74), who is part of an elite team of officials and helped in the successful organisation of the event, said that the climbs will be something different for the riders and a new challenge early in this year’s cycling season.
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, said:
“We are proud to announce an important addition to the world cycling calendar in 2010. Tour of Oman will be an important event as international cycling reaches new areas in the Middle East which has diverse and varied terrains that are ideally suited at the start of season.”
The race will award €111,642, or $161, 880, in prizes with €9,200 going to the winner. Oman is the second Gulf country to host an international cycling tour, after Qatar’s inaugural race nine years ago. According to the International Cycling Union, the sport’s world governing body, Oman is the fifth Middle Eastern country to feature on its annual event calendar.