Yousif Mirza admits a tactical mistake cost him individual victory in cycling’s President’s Cup on Saturday but says there is still plenty to celebrate after his Al Nasr side clinched the team title.
In blistering conditions in Fujairah, 130 riders representing 10 clubs in the UAE, took part in the season-closing race.
Mirza, the UAE’s top cyclist ranked No6 in the Asia Tour rankings, was unable to stop Al Ahli’s Tariq Obaid, who attacked in the final 200m of the 66km road race to take home first place.
"It was a good race. There was really stiff competition from the other riders. I could tell that Al Nasr were focused on winning the team title so I took advantage of that. I stayed close behind them for most of the race and then I attacked in the last 200 metres and it worked out," Obaid told Sport360.
Nasr were indeed focused on the team crown, according to Mirza, but he also regrets a mistake made by his brother Bader that cost him the individual medal.
"We were focused on the team event, so we guaranteed winning that but we made a mistake in the individual. I was in the lead throughout the entire race, but Bader (my brother) didn’t really understand our strategy well. It was tough for him and for us.
"Still it’s a big honour to win the team title. This event is called the President’s Cup and the fact that three of us get to lift a trophy bearing that name is huge for us."
The Nasr squad is mostly comprised of UAE national team riders, who have had a hectic schedule recently, taking part in the Tour du Maroc and the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen in Indonesia.
The weather also played a major factor in many riders’ performances and Mirza says there are five to six riders who are still in the hospital recovering from heat-related fatigue.
"The conditions were extremely tough and the weather was so hot," he added. "But I also understand why the organisers are unable to stage this race earlier in the season since we’re busy competing all year in different tours elsewhere."
Most clubs will be taking a break for a few weeks before resuming training next month in camps outside the country. The next main event in the Emirates is the Nad Al Sheba race, held mid-Ramadan.
Mirza says the national team’s focus now is to get as many riders as possible to gather points to qualify for this year’s World Championships.
"We have until December to get other riders to qualify so we have plenty of times to gather points. We’ll be competing in tours in Qatar, Sharjah and China," said Mirza, who has already qualified to Worlds and the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Yas Marina Circuit today announced an exciting new partnership with GHQ Armed Forces that will see the circuit become the official training ground for the UAE Army’s cycling fitness initiatives.
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The strategic tie-up further strengthens both parties’ commitment to health and fitness within the emirate and will see 200 camouflage branded bikes donated to Yas Marina Circuit by GHQ Armed Forces to be used for training by army personnel.
The army’s training programme will be held during the circuit’s hugely popular weekly training nights, TrainYAS and GoYAS by Daman’s Activelife.
Khalefa Rashed al Hamli, Staff Brigadier, from GHQ Armed Forces said: “Fitness is of the upmost importance to any fighting force and this new initiative is an ideal way to encourage health and fitness among the UAE’s military.
“The move demonstrates our commitment to providing an accessible platform for fitness not only to the army, but to the wider community and we look forward to establishing and building further this important partnership”.
The alliance between these two key Abu Dhabi stakeholders recognises the huge importance and benefits of healthy living.
Yas Marina Circuit’s weekly community fitness programmes, GoYAS and TrainYAS aimed at motivating people to live active healthy lifestyles, have proved hugely popular and this year has attracted a weekly average attendance of 4,500 people that run, walk or cycle the iconic, 5.5km F1 circuit.
“The agreement with the armed forces to use our facilities as their official training venue compliments the efforts of our existing health partners Daman, Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in encouraging active and healthy lifestyles within Abu Dhabi” said Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit.
“It also provides recognition of Yas Marina Circuit’s commitment to promoting health within the army and wider population.
"Engaging with residents and visitors to the UAE and promoting health and fitness is a hugely important part of what we offer".
The launch of the program will be held at TrainYAS on 19 May 2015.
In a thrilling kick-start to the proceedings, spectators will be treated to a marching band and paratroopers from the Armed Forces parachuting into the circuit.
For more information on the wide range of motorsport and community initiatives please visit: www.yasmarinacircuit.com or call 800 YAS (927).
Souplesse Cycle are hosting a Charity Ryde Night for the victims of Nepal's devastating earthquakes this evening at 6.30pm in Apex Atrium, Motor City.
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As per the guidelines of Red Crescent UAE the most useful donations to the victims are as follows:
There will be two Rydes at 6.30pm and 7.30pm, and they are free to enter. The more items that can be sent, the better as these people have suffered enough as it is.
The event's tagline is 'Every Little Bit Helps' and you can make a difference by showing a little generosity this evening.