THE Tour of Qatar, held every year since 2002, has been upgraded to an international cycling union (UCI) World Tour event.
The UCI released an expanded calendar for the 2017 season that will see the World Tour host premier-level races in five new countries for the first time and Qatar is one among them.
Australia, the UAE, Great Britain and the US are the other new entrants.
The application process for events to join the UCI World Tour from 2017 was met with significant interest from race organisers, with successful applicants being awarded three-year registrations.
“The World Tour status would ensure the participation of the best teams from around the world. When we applied to the UCI to upgrade the Tour of Qatar to a World Tour event, we knew that we had a good chance as we’re the first in the region,” said Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) President Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Thani.
Australia will also host the first of the new events when the riders line up for Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 29. That will be followed by the Tour of Qatar from February 6 to 10.
Meanwhile, the QCF struck a sponsorship deal with Q-Auto, the official dealer of Audi and Volkswagen in Qatar, for the UCI Road World Championships from October 9 to 16. Sheikh Khalid and Q-Auto Acting General Manager Ahmed Shariefi signed the agreement.