It’s the second half of the alphabet …
N is Nationality
Most of you know I have a fascination for the Danish riders and this month I may have as many as 10 to cheer for. Be sure to look out for Julie Leth (Hitec Products), back after a horrible crash last year. I’ll also be keeping an eye on the Pro-Conti teams, One Pro Cycling and Stolting Service Group, who are making their desert debuts and have six (6!) Danes between them. Kom så Denmark!
O is for Otts
If you don’t follow Ottilie Quince on Twitter then you’re missing out. Along with co-host Marty MacDonald, Miss Q will be taking to the airwaves and the back of a motorbike to cover Qatar for BeIn Sports. She’s also a dab hand at a selfie. Here she is with sprinter Sam Bennett after his brilliant stage win last year.
P is for Podium
Trophies! Plushies! Khanjars! The podiums are wonderfully perplexing!
There are goat plushies at Qatar!!! [I want one! – Kitty]Embed from Getty Images
There’s smooth, polished and circular in Dubai.
And the Khanjar? Well, that’s the wickedly curved ceremonial dagger presented in Oman. I’m not sure Bedhead Bardet looks old enough to be handling sharp items.Embed from Getty Images
Q is for Queen of the Desert
It’s the 8th Ladies Tour of Qatar and Dutch legend Kirsten Wild has won four of them (2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014) and she just added her 10th stage on the opening stage of this year’s LTOQ.
R is for Recon
The UCI World Road Championships will be hosted by Doha in Qatar this year (9-16 October). Good reconnaissance is a vital part of any rainbow campaign. It pays to learn every twist and turn in the road, every inch of tarmac, every grain of sand. [Are there any twists and turns? – Kitty] Racing in Qatar allows hopefuls to check out parts of the route and, most importantly, the finish.
S is for Swimming
The riders have to have some R&R between all the racing. The hotels are top notch and there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy in this area of the world. It’s always fun (and sometimes a little scary) to watch the twitter feeds.
T is for Team Vehicles
The entourage of vehicles that accompanies the peloton looks very different in these races. Gone are the brightly coloured liveries of team cars and neutral service vehicles.
U is for ululation
That fantastic high-pitched, tongue-trilling sound that expresses strong emotion and so often accompanies celebration in Arabic countries. Like this…
(I know there is video footage of victorious stage winners being greeted in this traditional manner. I suspect it was from the Tour of Oman. But can I find it anywhere? Can I heck!)
V is for Victorious Valls
Spanish rider Rafael Valls gave Lampre-Merida a surprise victory at the Tour of Oman last year. He might not have been on many people’s radar at the start but a storming ride on Green Mountain certainly made his season. He’s riding for Lotto-Soudal this year and has already made the top ten at the Tour Down Under.
W is for Watch
Each of the tours has its own dynamism and there’s always fantastic racing, it’s just a shame it’s so hard to find live pictures! Sometimes you have to use your imagination…
The brilliant Sarah Connolly (@_pigeons_) has written a guide for watching the Ladies Tour of Qatar . The Tour of Dubai will be shown on Eurosport, and we’ll keep you posted for news on the men’s races at Qatar and Oman.
X is for X-treme weather
The heat, the wind, and the damn flies! Last year’s Stage 5 of the Tour of Oman was something else. First a sandstorm shortened the stage, then soaring temperatures and popping tubulars on a sketchy descent caused the stage to be cancelled altogether.
Y is for Young Rider
My favourite from last year was without doubt Top Sport Vlaanderen’s Jef Van Meirhaeghe. The young Belgian neo-pro made it into the break on the first stage at the Tour of Oman to try to win a day in the best young rider’s jersey. That plan didn’t quite work, but it didn’t quench his thirst for some breakaway action. Young Jef fought his way into the #BOTD on every stage and he ended up with the splendid jersey for most combative rider.
Z is for Zest
I just love this picture from Oman in 2014. I know they’re racing and keeping their feet dry, but it looks like a group of kids going out and whooping it up for fun #wheeeeeeeeEmbed from Getty Images
Ladies Tour of Qatar: 2nd Feb to 5th Feb – Website Twitter
Dubai Tour: 3rd Feb to 6th Feb – Website Twitter
Tour of Qatar: 8th Feb to 12th Feb – Website Twitter
Tour of Oman: 17th to 22nd Feb – Website Twitter
Header image: The riders on the streets of Dubai on during stage four of the 2014 Dubai Tour Photo by Bryn Lennon – Velo/Getty Images)