October 5, 2020
We are about to get under starter’s orders for a new road, mountain bike and triathlon season and, following a curtailed 2019/20 season and a lengthy period of separation from our cycling friends and rivals, QTF is only too pleased this moment has come!
The racing calendar opens with the launch of a new Tuesday evening time trial series on the Olympic Cycling Track. These are open to specialist TT machines and standard road bikes, with podiums offered for both. Solo racing against the clock is partly driven by the need to avoid contributing to the spread of covid-19 but also to support the participation of the large number of new cyclists. The Royal Air Maroc League is suspended but this creates opportunities to mix up our road racing a little; with time trial, team time trial and handicap events opening the door to new racers, juniors and youths.
The event that brings all Qatar’s cyclists out on the roads – The Ride of Champions mass ride – is currently being planned with covid-19 safety in mind and makes a welcome return to its early season slot in November. The other headline event, the National Road Race Championship also moves, to join its equivalent time trial championship on the same week in February. Additional sportive-style events are under consideration but with dates not yet announced.
What the QCF events team are most excited about this season is something they have wanted to do for several years – a three-day mountain bike stage race. We are also pleased to partner with a new race organiser. You may already know Theeb for their trail runs and this year they expand their offering to bring us a MTB marathon. A race organiser needing no introduction is the United Filipino Mountain Bikers! They have have been busy adding features to the Al Kheesa and Al Khor trails, getting them ready for the first of their deservedly popular events starting 23rd October. We can expect jumps, drop-offs, technical climbs and some surprises, but with opt-outs for beginners and more cautious roadies straying into the terrain of the pure off-roader.
The Qatar National Triathlon Series returns for its third year: Five events which captialise on Qatar’s fantastic potential for open water swims. The first of those is the Katara Triathlon on 30th October but the multisport season actually starts three weeks earlier with two events from TriClub Doha, featuring beginner-friendly pool swims at Qatar Foundation. In December, we hope to welcome an elite international field to the first Asian Cup to be hosted here. If that is able to go ahead, the public race will rival the Doha Triathlon as the main focus of the multisport year. For endurance specialists and those looking for a big challenge, the Dukhan Triathlon is the one to sign up to. That’s moved to a new slot in January so there is plenty of time to work towards that goal.
It’s a return to racing but not a return to normality and nobody can be certain that events can go ahead as planned. Covid-19 continues to have a big impact on our lives and this is something that QCTF takes seriously. We ask all of you to rigorously follow the measures which we will put in place to allow events to go ahead with some degree of confidence that we are not contributing to the spread of the virus and that your fellow participants can feel comfortable that they can enjoy sport without risk of bringing corona virus home with them. On a positive note, a boom in cycling has resulted from the combination of Covid-19 restrictions on gyms and the opening of the Olympic Cycle Track. We look forward to welcoming cyclists, both new and old to our races and to helping you to get the most out of those seriously fast looking bikes that some of you have bought!