Wheels in motion: Aref Al Awani.
On the heels of staging the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour last October, the ADSC is keen on capitalising on the rapidly rising interest in cycling in the capital and hope that the new Abu Dhabi Cycling Club will push the sport forward both on the professional and recreational levels.
“We are in the final stages of creating a club in Abu Dhabi for cycling,” ADSC secretary general Aref Al Awani told Sport360.
“It will be dedicated to the sport. It will start as an amateur club but the goal is to have a professional team come out of it. We’re hoping it opens this year. It is already in the works and it will be under the Abu Dhabi Sports Council umbrella.”
Two professional cycling teams have already come out of Dubai in the past two years – Skydive Dubai-Al Ahli Club and Al Nasr-Dubai – while the UAE will have its first cyclist at the Olympics since 1988 when Yousif Mirza takes part in the Rio Games this summer.
Three professional cycling stage races take place annually in the UAE – Dubai Tour, Abu Dhabi Tour and Sharjah International Cycling Tour – while the capital also hosts the end-of-year UCI Awards Gala.
Asked whether a women’s cycling event could soon turn up on the Abu Dhabi sports calendar, Al Awani said: “Insha’Allah. We have started with golf, this year we’ll have a ladies’ golf tournament for the first time. But we’re looking into cycling as well.
“We want to have women involved in every sport and every field.
“We’re big supporters of women’s sport, whether in football, jiu-jitsu, now golf, so cycling is definitely next. But that’s still being studied by the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Academy, because that is our subsidiary dedicated to women’s sport.”