• The 15th and last Tour of Qatar was run in 2016. (Getty)Source: Getty
The 2017 men's and women's Tours of Qatar will not go ahead due to sponsorship issues, according to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Cycling Central

International Cycling Union
29 Dec 2016 - 6:09 PM  UPDATED 30 Dec 2016 - 6:35 AM

Qatar was the oldest of a number of races in the Persian Gulf region, along with Oman and the newer Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours, and was due to be held in February.

A short statement by the UCI announced the cancellation of the 15-year-old race along with the women's event which has existed for eight years.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has today received notice of the cancellation of both the Tour of Qatar and Ladies Tour of Qatar. It is understood the decision follows difficulty attracting sponsor financial support," the statement said.

With its flat and often windy, both the men's and women's editions were traditionally set pieces for sprinters and classics riders, with this year's races won by Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Trixi Worrack (Canyon-SRAM).

Run by Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) the event was seen as a key plank in globalising the sport.

However, it was dogged by poor local attendance in a country not noted for its cycling and attracted criticism for a lack of meaning when compared to century old races in the European heartland.

The Gulf state is planning for the 2022 soccer World Cup and has hosted the Asian Cup, the Men's Handball World Championship and the FINA World Swimming Championships.

In October Qatar became the first Arab country to host the UCI Road World Championships, an event which was hailed by Qatar as a success but which detractors criticised for the heat and low fan turnout.