Saturday, M and I saw the final leg of the Tour de Qatar. The ladies tour came and went a a week ago and we did not see any of it. In fact, we have missed a few major sporting events here in Doha. Last fall we missed the Qatar Open tennis matches and also the England Vs Brazil soccer/football match. However, we were determined to see these world class cyclists duke it out here on our "home" turf so we quickly did an Internet search to find more information.
Luckily my husband is a cycling enthusiast so after we found very little information about future tour events (who wants to know past tour times?!) on the Qatar Cycling Federation's website, he went to Le Tour's website to find excellent, up-to-date information about Tour de Qatar events.
We found out that the last stage would be Saturday starting at 12:00PM and finishing around 2:00PM. The course would be easy to find and near our part of Qatar. The race would start from Al Wakra and end along the Corniche in Doha. So, around 11:00AM on Saturday, we got in the car and drove to Al Wakra.
Once we arrived around 11:30AM we noticed pre-race preparations underway. I love race day! It was so fun seeing all the police cars blocking off traffic and cyclists warming up! M and I are both runners who haven't been able to race since the summer in 2009, so seeing all this action was very exciting for us.
The funniest thing of the day was seeing the team crews all waiting along the Corniche. These men were all North American or European. Because it was a nice, warm day they all took off their shirts and lounged about in full view of local Qataris. Several abaya clad women stared, snickered, and covered their mouths after seeing the tanned bare chests of these non-Arab men. It was such a strange sight for us as well, that I made my husband take a photo of them. I said, "This is something that we will NOT see along the Corniche in Qatar ever again. Take a photo!"
The awards ceremony was also interesting. M told me that in European tours women give the cyclists their awards and kisses on both cheeks, but this simply was not done in Qatar. In fact, three obviously foreign women merely held a shiny tray of medals that were given to the cyclists by thobed Qatari men. I did not know the men who raced, but the winner was Francesco Chicchi from Italy. M knew Tom Boonen from Belgium and Tom seemed to draw a crowd from some Qatar expats.
Overall it was a great day. Just being at a race made us both want to train harder and find more races here in the Gulf.
Until next time,