MUSCAT, Sept 5
Salalah is set for cycling spectacle towards the conclusion of the much-famed Salalah Tourism Festival, organised during the ‘khareef season’.
The Oman Cycling Association (OCA) in association with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth will organise the inaugural four-stage Tour of Salalah race from September 14 to 17 around the city.
The RO 7,785 prize-money event will see cyclists in the Sultanate and GCC countries in action in four stages that will showcase the natural beauty of the southern city of the Sultanate.
From Oman, 10 teams will be part of the action, while national teams from all the GCC countries — UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait — will give a regional frame to the race.
“The Tour of Salalah comes as part of Oman Cycling Association’s efforts to diversify its activities to reach the youth in the different governorates. This event is specifically taking place due to the interest taken by HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth,” OCA president Said al Rashdi said during a press conference to unveil the Tour of Salalah.
“The opening edition will see participation of local and GCC cyclists. The OCA will study the possibility of involving other international riders according to the scope of this year’s event,” Al Rashdi said.
The OCA chief added that the OCA is progressing towards a cycling league across the Sultanate, which involve 10 races, in the future.
“Tour of Salalah, Tour of Duqm, Sur, Musandam are all part of the plan and the OCA will evaluate the possibility of the League in the near future,” Al Rashdi enthused.
He thanked the logistical support from the various government agencies for the Salalah race along with the backing of private sector companies for sponsoring the event. The event will be cautiously managed following the recommendations of the Supreme Committee regarding the Covid-19 protocols, though the races are out of risk of wider crowd participation, the OCA chief said.
TOP RIDERS IN ACTION
Salalah, Oman, Al Shabab, Al Rustaq and Bahla will be five Omani clubs in the competition along with five cycling teams — Elite, Gulf Cycles, Cycle KOM, Royal Army and Capital Team.
Last edition OCA Championship overall winner Mundher al Hasani will vie for Elite, while runner-up Paul Willcox from United Kingdom will be in action for Cycle KOM, the new name for North Road Oman team. Gulf Cycles chairman Mohammed al Hishami said his team will field seven riders with Mazin al Riyami one of the star attractions in the squad.
Young Mazin had finished fifth in the last OCA Championship and Gulf Cycles taking the third spot in the team category.
The winners will get RO 1,500 with the second-placed team getting RO 1,000 and a purse of Ro 750 for the third team.
Each stages of the Open category event will also see RO 2,160 worth cash prizes being handed out.
Each team will consist a minimum of five riders and a maximum of seven riders.
Rishi Khimji, OCA vice-chairman, and other board members and officials including Sultan al Rawahi and Saud al Rawahi were present.
Ishaq al Balushi, OCA General Secretary, detailed the stages during the unveiling function through a video presentation.
Khalifa al Jabri, OCA board member, clarified the rules and regulations of the race to the team heads.
The top four ranking riders of the stages will wear the Omantel Blue jersey, Port of Salalah green jersey, OQ white jersey and Bank Muscat silver jersey respectively.