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Flat roads across the Arabian Desert, blinding sunshine and temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius) will be key features of this coming Sunday’s world elite men’s road race championship in Doha, Qatar (#UCIDoha2016).
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
Unlike the week’s other four road races that simply lap the 15.2-kilometer circuit around Doha’s The Pearl residential zone (though the elite women’s race has a 13-kilometer lead-in through the city of Doha), the elite men’s race spends most of its opening three hours in the desert.
This image is from the 2011 Tour of Qatar, the five-day stage race that’s been organized there since 2001 in late January or February—when the temperatures are generally in the mid-70s, not mid-90s. Most of the stages over the past 15 years have passed through the desert, often with closing loops in Doha or one of the other cities in the oil-rich State of Qatar on the Persian Gulf.
Qatar was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1915 when it became a British protectorate until 1971. It is now a sovereign state. With the exploitation of its petroleum wealth, the country’s population has mushroomed from 111,000 in 1970 to 2.5 million today—though 85 percent of the current residents are ex-pats, mostly male laborers building the state’s infrastructure and city high-rises. Per capita, the nation is the wealthiest in the world.