Fresh from its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is now in talks to stage the start of the Tour de France in the near future, according to reports.
According to a source close to the Emir, Qatar is interested in staging the start of the world’s most famous cycle race in the near future, possibly in 2016.
“His highness (the Emir) has had this idea in mind for quite a while. They have started the discussions and the process,” the unnamed source to Reuters.
Locating the start of the famous race in another country is nothing new or unique. London hosted it in 2007, while next year’s Tour de France will set off from the Parc d’Avroy, in the heart of Liège, Belgium, and the 2014 incarnation will begin on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
However, a start in Qatar is a different story altogether, and a different continent.
Running from Saturday 2 July to Sunday 24 July 2011, the 98th Tour de France was made up of 21 stages and covered a total distance of 3,430.5 kilometres. As yet, there are no indications how Qatar and race organisers would solve the logistical problems with starting the race in the searing heat of the distant Middle East, but the source is confident that all obstacles can be overcome.
“I think there are options to manage it. We can have a small prologue, not too long, with water sprayed at certain points. There is no technical problem with doing it here," they added.
Qatar already has an association with the Tour de France as Doha-based Qatar Airways, was named the Official Airline of this year’s race.
As the official airline it flew all competing cyclists from the French city of Grenoble to Paris Orly International Airport on 24 July before they disembarked for the final stage of the race, which was eventually won by Australian Cadel Evans.