Merckx gives birth to the Tour of Oman
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Friday, May 08, 2009

Merckx gives birth to the Tour of Oman

by Steve Jones at 11:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

For decades Eddy Merckx has given cyclists something to cheer about. He has inspired cycling fans and professionals with his incredible exploits on the bike, produced his own line of cutting edge racing bikes, and was the advisor to Qatar helping to make the Tour of Qatar a reality.

It's no surprise that Belgium's king of cycling is at it again. Last week Merckx was invited to the country of Oman by their national association. Like Qatar, Oman is interested in bringing a professional bike race to their country.

Situated on southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman could provide the peloton with much more variations in terrain than in the Tour of Qatar, and the races could compliment one another.

"I have visited the country in western Asia. The leaders have asked me my opinion. The road is very good. In contrast to Qatar, it is hilly and in the northern part they have mountains," said an enthusiastic Merckx to nieuwsblad.be.

In the last couple of years the Sultanate of Oman has been positioning itself as a tourist destination. It has been featured in many publications and won "Top Destination" in Vogue Magazine for 2008. Bike races have long been a powerful way to market an area as a resort destination. All of the three Grand Tours are prime examples of that, and the Tours of Britain, California, Ireland, and Missouri have all joined in on the tradition.

In financially difficult times bringing another race into the fold is certainly positive for the sport, but its placement on the calendar will make a big difference on how it is received by the other race organizers. Not wanting to overshadow his work in Qatar, Merckx cleared matters of competition with Qatar's Tour by saying, "The intention is that Oman would join the Tour of Qatar. Oman would like to start next year with this new Tour."

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