The UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016 are only five short days away, and the true mark of success for a major competition is the legacy it leaves behind once it gets over.
For Qatar, which will create history by becoming the first Middle Eastern host of the prestigious UCI Road World Championships, the legacy has already started to build up.
As the country gears up for the competition, a group of youngsters are training diligently to become Qatar’s next cycling stars far away from the spotlight.
The national cadet team comprises 11 riders aged 13 to 17; eight of the team were seen in action last week, at Lusail, during the domestic season-opening Rasen Adventure Store Time Trial race.
Qatar national cadet team coach Nehad Kadri spoke about the side’s set-up.
“The 11 Qatari riders are Mohammed Ehab, Ehab Al Omari, Naif Aleh, Khalid Saber, Bilal Saadi, Mudar Al Khatib, Abdulrahman Mattar, Abdulaziz Al Subaei, Noor Al Masri, Feras Saber and Ali Al Qahtani. They are all students and have been together since at least 2014,” he said.
The Egyptian said the young team trains regularly.
“They practise four times a week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — at Lusail. Fridays are usually reserved for road training. While we ride 30 to 80km during each training session, it goes up to 100kms on road,” he said.
“The weather in Qatar can sometimes be quite harsh. So we manage things by doing two-hour training sessions in the evenings, after 5pm. On road training days, we start out as early as 5am.
“In addition, we also attend outstation training camps. My boys recently returned from a one-month camp in Slovenia. They took part in many local races and it helped improve them a lot,” he added.
The team’s assistant coach, Marouane Znagi, from Tunisia, said the boys were eagerly looking forward to the UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016.
“To say they are excited would be an understatement. They’re competing in the Ride of Champions event, on October 15, and have been training hard for it.
“They’re thrilled to finally be meeting some of their heroes in the flesh.
Observing international riders from close quarters will add to their confidence,” he said.
At 13, Mudar Al Khatib is one of the team’s youngest members. The soft-spoken rider said he thoroughly enjoys being a cyclist.
“Ehab (Al Omari) is my neighbour and I used to see him train often. It piqued my interest. Already a member of the national team, he introduced me to the two coaches. I soon fell in love with cycling. I like it also because it helps me concentrate on my studies,” he said.
Ehab, on his part, was very clear about what he wants to do in life. “I want to represent Qatar on the world stage. I would have loved to do so at the UCI Road World Championships at home, but I didn’t make the cut. I’m hopeful about being selected for future races.”
Qatar may have a relatively small cadet team, but none of the riders are short on ambition. If they are nurtured and groomed well, their future successes will be the country’s biggest legacy from the UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016.