The 28-year-old Emirati has been left devastated at being forced out of what would have been a first-ever WorldTour appearance for new team UAE Team Emirates.
The Tour’s rise in prominence to WorldTour status predictably comes with more rules and regulations, with riders expected to provide three sets of blood tests while out of competition to authorities.
The UCI’s Anti-Doping Administrative Management System (ADAMS) was established in 2008 so that professional cyclists could mark when and where they would be available for out-of-competition testing.
However, even though Emirati star Mirza has complied with everything the UCI has asked of him, ADAMS testers have still not got round to taking samples – meaning the 28-year-old was taken out of the starting line-up earlier this week.
“It is devastating but I cannot control it. It’s out of my hands,” Mirza said at the rebranded UAE Team Emirates’ launch on Tuesday.
“I don’t know why it is taking so long, you cannot ask me. They need to visit you in your home but I’m waiting. In Europe it’s normal but in the UAE or Gulf region it’s something new. It’s them taking too long. More than 45 days.
“For me it’s my first WorldTour race and when you do that you have to get three blood tests from ADAMS. I was on the start list and waiting for ADAMS but now I’ve lost my chance.
“I have been sending a lot of emails to them. My team are doing their best but they had an email saying Mirza cannot ride the Abu Dhabi Tour. It’s very sad. Not just for me but my family, all my friends, home supporters. I have a lot of people asking me why I’m not in the start list.”
Despite his disappointment, Mirza is desperate for the situation to resolve itself before his next WorldTour race, the Volta a Catalunya which begins on March 20.
“Abu Dhabi have been biggest race of career so far, but I am sure next year I will be riding on the Tour,” said an upbeat Mirza.
“I’m in the Catalunya start list, that is my next race. I have to do the tests before. That is the end of March so I have one month to sort it out. It depends on them and what they choose because they just turn up. It’s so frustrating.”
He also hopes his absence doesn’t hinder UAE Team Emirates’ chances of success on home soil.
“I hope the team can do well without me,” he added.
“They are good riders and we have some big names, like Rui (Costa), Louis (Meintjes), (Andrea) Guardini. We have all types, sprinters, flats and climbing.
“I expect them to challenge and be among the top positions. (Diego) Ulissi was third in the GC last year so I expect him to be up there, on home soil.”
Mirza, who competed for the UAE in the road race at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio last summer, has long been a star on the local scene.
He has won numerous Emirati national titles and claimed road race silver at the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships, but he has shown tremendous promise in 2017, having been snapped up by UAE Team Emirates.
Mirza finished 21st on Stage 5 at the Dubai Tour and was 23rd on Stage 1, finishing 62nd twice on Stage 2 and 3, and he was looking forward to building on that this weekend.
“I competed in Dubai and Oman too but they weren’t WorldTour races,” he said.
“Abu Dhabi this year would have been my first, it would have been special, but it’s not happening and I’m really sad. I hope to do my tests as soon as possible, because I don’t want to lose out on any more WorldTour points.”