A record number of champions from all communities and of all abilities participated in Qatar’s largest cycling celebration, at The Ooredoo Ride of Champions
The 2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions, organized annually by Qatar Cyclists Center, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, proved that it is, indeed, possible to have fun while being safe in the year 2020. The event featured more than 1,700 champions from ages (3 on up to 68) and more than 70 nationalities participated in its fourth edition on Friday including for the first time wheelchair, handcycle and ability sport participants.
The Ceremonial Court at Education City, Qatar Foundation, was filled with cycling enthusiasts from all over Qatar, including public figures and government diplomats, to celebrate their favorite sport, beating the previous record of more than 1500 participants set during the 2019 edition.
The event invites members of the public to practice sport and live healthy lives. Taking part in each of the six bike rides that appeal to all ages and levels of experience, and having a chance to win valuable prizes from the event’s partners via social media contests.
The first edition of the Ride of Champions, organized as a support event hosted by Doha 2016 for the UCI Road World Championships, has become the most anticipated annual event for cycling enthusiasts in Qatar, owing to the terrific environment offered to all who participate. As could be expected, the 2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions was very different than in years past.
Dr. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, President of Qatar Cyclists Center, the event organiser, said “In 2020, in these challenging times, the organising team, government bodies, our host venue at Education City, Qatar Foundation, event partners and Qatari cycling community have shown great resilience and co-operation to ensure and deliver an event for the physical and mental wellbeing of participants in a year with few opportunities to celebrate sport and enjoy a shared community moment.”
Hamad Al Jaaidi, Co-Managing Director, Ooredoo Ride of Champions adds “For 2020 the event incorporated a host of COVID protocols, following all government guidelines and best practice, including pre-event screening, temperature checks at registration and entry points to the event. Socially distanced start and finish protocols, specific Covid teams at the event working to ensure compliance with protocols and the elimination of all non-essential activities and areas such as VIP and Media Centres and Fan Zone. Additionally, for 2020 all prize giving and competitor raffle activities are being moved online or done post event in socially distanced formats.”
The increased vigilance displayed towards safety has enabled individuals and companies throughout Qatar to resume their efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.
Sabah Rabiah Al-Kuwari, Director PR at Ooredoo, said: “Supporting events that promote a healthy, active lifestyle is a key priority for Ooredoo, both as part of our corporate social responsibility strategy and in line with our commitment to the United Nations Sustainability Goals. We’ve had a challenging few months with physical events, due to the ongoing pandemic situation, so to see so many riders out enjoying themselves at the Ooredoo Ride of Champions was immensely encouraging. We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.”
Dr. Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari, President of Qatar Cycling and Triathlon Federation had this to say: “It’s great to see this event’s progress over the years. This year, hitting a record number reflects the growth in the cycling community in Qatar. Being a founder of Qatar Cyclists, I could not be happier.”
Mr. Hamad Al Khaja,
At QNTC, we work to leverage the remarkable development the tourism industry has seen to reinforce Qatar’s position as a sports tourism hub. As we prepare to host the world’s biggest sporting event in 2022, we look forward to the growth of competitions such as the Ooredoo Ride of Champions and their recognition on the global stage.”
Given the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the event’s organisers, with the support of Qatar Foundation, whose Education City is the host venue and other partners, postponed the original event date of March 2020. After a long series of meticulous planning and consultations with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health and other key stakeholders, a new date for the 2020 edition was approved (13th November 2020). The edition featured many new protocols and other changes that enabled a record number of participants to come out and still enjoy the experience, while staying safe.
It has been difficult to host live community events this year, following the outbreak of Covid-19, “said Mohammed Fakhroo, Executive Director of Outreach and Institutional Advancement at Qatar Foundation. “However, we’re delighted to have played host to the 2020 edition of the Ooredoo Ride of Champions on Friday. With health and safety at the forefront of the event, we hope that we will be able to set an example for others, demonstrating how large-scale activities – with the necessary protocols in place – can be carried out successfully.”
Among many changes in this year’s event were: Ehteraz and temperature checks, a mandate to wear masks and social distance in and around the Ceremonial Court area, more stringent health declaration and waiver forms, and a rigid, but necessary, social distancing policy observed by all attendees and organizers.
Event operations also underwent significant changes, all designed to cater to the safety and health of the participants, workforce, and community at large.
What was usually a favorite event of the participants, the end of ride podium, lunch, and on-site prize draw, was completely adjusted to meet the demanding health and safety standards required due to Covid-19. In this year’s edition, there were no podium presentations, and boxed lunches were provided to participants as they departed Ceremonial Court at Education City, Qatar Foundation. In addition, all prize drawings were migrated to social media, enabling all participants and Qatar Residents a chance to win fabulous prizes from the event’s many prime sponsors.
Another exciting element of this year’s Ooredoo Ride of Champions event was just how inclusive the event was. In fact, the event proved to be the most inclusive mass participation event in Qatar’s history. People from all walks of life were able to participate, regardless of their age,
gender, or physical or cognitive ability. The oldest rider in this year’s Ooredoo Ride of Champions was Ammed Raoof, 68 years of age. The youngest cyclist was Hagan Joseph Jilin, clocking in at just 3 years of age. We also had more than 40 participants in our new Ability-Friendly Ride, featuring wheelchair and hand pedal riders as well as the Best Buddies ride, with more than 20 participants. This year’s Ooredoo Ride of Champions event proved that just about anyone can enjoy cycling in Qatar.
At sunrise on Friday, 13th November, Ceremonial Court, the sun’s rays glistened on a beautiful scene, decorated in the event’s iconic red, orange, and maroon colors. Meanwhile, many hundreds of uniformed cyclists began arriving in the early hours of the day to get ready for the
three main road trips. As with all Ride of Champions events, the organizers provisioned for riders who may not own their own bikes.
In addition to a bicycle rental service from Qatar Cyclists’ booth, another sponsor, Rasen Sports, offered free bicycle repair services to all participants at its booth, as the organizers intended to draw the attention of the greatest number of participants looking to give cycling a try.
At 6:00 a.m., the first ride began, when mainly seasoned riders went on a 137.5 km ride. The riders were socially distanced at the starting gate, and the start was staggered.
Routes were selected to display the elegance and fantastic desert views of Qatar, putting Qatar’s fast growing sports tourism sector on display.
Motorbikes from the Traffic Police helped ensure rider safety in and around the Ooredoo Ride of Champions. There were also support vehicles provided by GMC. The number of participants in the three major rides, which exceeded all projections, kept the support team busy. Event organizers praised the terrific efforts of Qatar’s Traffic Police, as they went to great lengths to ensure the safety of the riders.
All eyes were on the green spine from 8:00 a.m., which featured children’s programs. The first was attended by over 100 young riders and their close friends, representing the Best Buddies Qatar project initiated by Her Majesty, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, to contribute to the inclusion of people with moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities into school, the workforce, and the culture of the State of Qatar. Qatar Cyclists Center issued bicycles for all the children who joined the ride.
The second was a 1-km race, open to children from 3-8 years of age with more than 100 riders.
Next was the event’s most popular ride, the Family Ride, offering family members a chance to take a 5.8 km tour together on bicycles inside the Qatar Foundation premises.
H.E. Mr. Bart De Groof, Ambassador of Belgium to Qatar had this to say about the event. “I’m very happy to have participated today in the Ooredoo Ride of Champions and to promote the cause of cycling in Qatar. Belgium is a country where cycling is second nature and we have produced many cycling champions, Eddy Merckx being probably the most famous. Cycling is fantastic for many reasons. First, it is healthy, it makes you move at your own rhythm, exercising your muscles, bones and heart. It is also a very ecological form of transport, taking polluting cars off the streets as much as possible.
Of course, for this to happen, cycling must be fun and safe. It is, therefore commendable that Qatar is making such a momentous effort to expand its network of cycling lanes and cycling infrastructure to cater to the expanding number of people using their bicycles. Lastly, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for a positive attitude towards bicycles in traffic. For this, any awareness drive such as the Ride of the Champions is an excellent initiative."
In addition, Ambassador of Brazil to the State of Qatar, H.E. Mr. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, had this to say about his experience in the Family Ride at the Ooredoo Ride of Champions: “The family ride was great, and very safe. The organization of this event was truly excellent!”
Many organizations sponsored the event this year and increased awareness about the great benefits of sport and fitness for both their staff and members of the community.
Dolphin Energy’s General Manager – Qatar, Mr. Hassan Al-Emadi commented on Dolphin Energy’s sponsorship: “Following postponement due to COVID-19, I am delighted to see that the Ride of Champions has returned to the sporting calendar and will be held in a way to ensure social distancing and other MOPH guidelines are followed. Many of the initiatives we support promote healthy lifestyle and wellbeing across the local community which is why we are proud to sponsor this event for the second year in a row. It is great that people – many of whom already worked and trained hard to participate in the event earlier in the year – can now get outside, exercise and have fun together in a safe way. I wish them and the organizers the best of luck.”
Once again, this year, there was a Corporate Challenge, enabling companies from around Qatar to provide team building activities while also competing against other well-known companies across Qatar’s business landscape. The special competition for companies enabled them to inspire their employees to support sports and healthy lifestyles. During this year’s event, awards will soon be presented to the most successful organizations, depending on the number of participants from each company, and overall average times.
With riders passing the finish line, the organizers implemented a rapid exit procedure to avoid the congregation of large crowds at the end of the event. As soon as riders finished, they formed a single-file socially distanced line to receive their medals, pick up their takeaway lunch, and finish their day. In the interest of safety, the normal prize raffle event was moved 100% online, enabling all participants and Qatar Residents to participate on the official Instagram account @rocdoha.
H.E. Mr Franck Gellet, Ambassador of France to Qatar, was one of the many impressed participants, and said the following about his experience:”As ambassador of one of the most cycling countries in the world, as everyone knows the Tour de France. I was pleased to join the remarkably well organized event, by both the Qatar Cyclists Center and Ooredoo, which I wholeheartedly congratulate. The very beauty of Education City led me to run even two tours, so as to enjoy the spectacular architectural perspectives, taking in more than I ever could from a car. It was a great time altogether. I’m already on my booking for next year.”
The day ended as a big success, with hundreds of participants already entering on social media for their chance to earn valuable prizes from Official Partners of the event such as Turkish Airlines, Rasen Sports and Garmin Lingawi.
The event organisers at Qatar Cyclists Center are hugely thankful to their Title Partner Ooredoo, hosts Qatar Foundation, partners Dolphin Energy, the Qatar National Tourism Council and Turkish Airlines. Additionally, the support of key government entities Ministry of Culture and Sports, Qatar Cycling Federation, Traffic Police and the approval to enable the event of the Ministry of Public Health. Further gratitude is expressed to the events supporters Garmin Lingawi, Rasen Sports, Rayyan Water, Aspetar, GMC and accessibility partners Best Buddies and Accessible Qatar.
The proud supporters of the 2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions were enthusiastic in their participation in this year’s event:
Mr. Mehmed Zingal, General Manager at Turkish Airlines had this to say: “Turkish Airlines is proud to be the official Airline Partner of The Ride of Champions and play a positive role to support Qatar’s leadership in their vision of making Qatar a healthy and active society.”
Dr. Abdulaziz Jaham al Kuwari, Aspetar Chief Executive Officer said: “I would like to thank Ooredoo for organising this event, it has come in the right time to encourage exercise and return to sport activities, in light of the difficult times the world is facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Aspetar and Aspire Zone employees team will participate in different competitions and we are delighted to be part of the ride. At Aspetar, we are always supporting initiatives that promote a healthy, active lifestyle, and we encourage people to take part in this event as much as they can”.
H.E. Dr Deepak Mittal, Ambassador of India to Qatar commented: “It was a great pleasure to participate in the Ooredoo Ride of Champions. The participation by one and all showed the will to fight the ongoing pandemic, celebrate sports and reinforced the importance of fitness. Congratulations to the participants and the organisers for conducting the event in a safe and professional manner.”
Mr. Cameron Marchand, Concept Manager – Rasen Sports said “During these challenging times, we are humbled and proud to see cycling and other outdoor sports take such a central role in ensuring the health and happiness of Qatar’s citizens. Rasen Sports would like to thank all the organizers for overcoming almost impossible challenges to ensure that the Ooredoo Ride of Champions 2020 lives on.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Arun Sreekumar, Trade Marketing Manager at Rayyan Water remarked: “As the leading water brand of Qatar and being the only Natural Water brand produced in the country, we are delighted to be the water sponsor of the largest cycling sport event – Ooredoo Ride of Champions 2020 held at Qatar Foundation. Our aim is to promote such events to keep everybody Stay Healthy and to continue to be active in sports.”
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2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions Facts & Figures
· 1900 registered cyclists, with 1700 participating on the day, with 1300 out on the road rides, 300 family and over 100 youth athletes, as well as wheelchair racers and ability sport participants
· 71 different nationalities were represented by the participants of the 2020 Ooredoo Ride of Champions, ROC, with most of them coming from the Philippines, Qatar, United Kingdom, Indonesia and India.
· 101,589 km, the total distance covered by the participants of the event this year, the equivalent of riding around the circumference of the world 2.5 times!
· 2,200 custom made cycling Jerseys were provided to the riders by the Italian clothing company Nalini, which provides jerseys to the newly crowned world champions.
· 148 volunteers provided support to the participants of this year’s event, in addition to 20 policemen, 6 ambulances.
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The Ooredoo Ride of Champions would like to thank all partners and supporters of the 2020
Qatar National Tourism Council
Ministry of Culture and Sports
Qatar Cycling Federation
For more information about the Ooredoo Ride of Champions, please visit www.rocdoha.qa. You may also follow @rocdoha on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.