Qatari cyclists stole the show on the first day of the Tour of Salalah cycling event, as Ahmed al Bardini and Abdullah Afif secured first and second places. Al Bardini finished the six-km Individual Time Trial in 7 minutes 49.08 seconds, while Abdullah Afif finished it in 7: 49.64.
The UAE cyclists Khaled Mayouf and Aber al Mansoori stood third and fourth by completing the distance in 7:50:25, and 7:50:96, respectively.
The start and endpoints for the first stage were Sultan Qaboos Youth Complex for Culture and Entertainment and Burj Al Nahda.
With the start of the first stage of the Tour of Salalah, the Oman Cycling Association (OCA) launched its 2021 cycling season, which will conclude on April 1, 2022.
A total of 14 teams with 89 riders are taking part in the Tour of Salalah, the second stage of which is slated for Wednesday from Samharam Archeological Port to Mughsail Beach. The riders will cover a distance of 106 kms in the second stage.
Qatari under-23 rider Bilal al Saadi finished fifth (7:55.16) to complete a solid show by the country.
Oman-based British rider Paul Wilcox made a sixth spot finish in 7:56.28 for Cycle KOM team.
Omani riders finished in 13 to 20th spots with Faisal al Maamari taking 13th spot in 8:12.71 and Mundher al Hasani, defending champion of OCA Championship, was 14th in 8:13.90.
The first Tour of Salalah — being organised by the OCA in association with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth — according to some participants, may turn out to be a milestone for future cycling events in Oman.
“Salalah as a destination has all the elements for holding international cycling events. Still, the experts have to look at it from the angle of feasibility and nitty-gritty for holding such events because this is the first time the professional cyclists are hitting Salalah trails,” said Saif al Sharqi from the UAE. Al Sharqi is an International Commissaire for cycling.
Ali Saif from UAE, another International Commissaire, was all praise for the preparations for the Salalah Tour and said Salalah might emerge as one of the major cycling destinations in the coming days.
“It has weather, topography, plain and mountains which can be developed as proper cycling tracks for international events. Tour of Salalah thus is an important event for Salalah,” he said.
The tour evoked charm among the local residents, as the passersby slowed their vehicle to have a glimpse of the event, which was entirely new to them.
Some cycling enthusiasts from Salalah gathered at the venue with cycles and cycling gears, hoping to take part in the event.
They, however, were told politely by the organisers to try next time with due procedures of registration and other formalities.
With the Tour of Salalah launch, the OCA is hopeful of a new beginning of national and international cycling events, which received a severe setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic.