• The 2016 Tour of Qatar peloton (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Tour of Qatar race organisers have downsized their event in a technical decision that considered the increasing volume of early season races now on offer across multiple continents.
By
Sophie Smith

Source:
Cycling Central
11 Feb 2016 - 9:18 AM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2016 - 11:26 AM

Once the only cycling test in the Emirates the race now sits between the Dubai Tour and the Tour of Oman and runs concurrently with competitions in Australia and Spain.

About 10 races across multiple continents have already featured since the beginning of the official WorldTour season at the Tour Down Under in January, which competes with the Tour de San Luis in South America.

The greater spread on offer has equally seen a dilution of WorldTour teams at races with less top-tier outfits competing at Qatar, compared to previous editions, this month and a noted absence of ‘big names’ at the Tour Down Under.

There have been proponents and critics of that result with some arguing a higher concentration of WorldTour teams at certain events is more beneficial for the sport. The debate and actions of organisers lends itself to the question of whether the current calendar is too busy over January and February.

Well documented UCI WorldTour reforms that will be implemented next season could change the game again. The reforms are yet to be fully outlined, however, UCI President Brian Cookson has said the governing body will look at the dates and lengths of events to try and strike a balance between races in modern and traditional locations.

“We may have to look at changing some dates of some events, changing the length of some events,” Cookson said in Qatar on Tuesday. “I’m confident we can find a balance without reducing the size of our sport but rather expanding it worldwide. That’s what we’re trying to do and there are parts of the world that are excited about having top level cycling events in their part of the world.”

Organisers at the Tour of Qatar have said they will push for WorldTour status in 2017, which could again change the dynamic of the race that features five stages over six this month. The reduced number of stages was designed to allow riders to compete at the Dubai Tour and then travel to Doha.

It remains unclear if the Tour de France and other ASO events will be part of the UCI’s revised WorldTour calendar next season. Cookson and Tour director Christian Prudhomme have both been in Doha separately this week.

The two bodies it is understood remain at loggerheads over the reforms.

“We will be talking with ASO in due course, there is no urgency, “Cookson said. “Our position is very clear, their position is clear and we’re now going through the application and process for events that want to be part of the WorldTour. I’m very encouraged by the huge amount of interest that there is.