women’S cy­cling

A new women’s cy­cling team is off to school to find young tal­ent

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - ACTIVE - in­sta­gram.com/ Al_ Asayl_ Cy­cling_ Team

There’s a new women’s cy­cling team in the UAE – and not only is it on a mis­sion to win races, it wants to un­earth the next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent as well.

Al Asayl Cy­cling Team is ac­tu­ally the new name of Be Sport bike shop’s team (an ex­ist­ing women’s team who com­pete in the UAE) but the project isn’t just a sim­ple re­brand­ing – it’s the brain­child of Sheika Alyazia Bint Sul­tan of Abu Dhabi’s rul­ing Al Nahyan fam­ily and Abu Dhabi-based cy­clist Roisin Thomas, one of the UAE’s top com­peti­tors in the women’s cy­cling scene.

The team’s new spon­sor is Al Asayl, a horse rac­ing team and eques­trian club based in the UAE’s cap­i­tal – they take over from Be Sport as the team’s main spon­sor and, most im­por­tantly, are pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port so its riders can be the first women’s team in the GCC to race in com­pe­ti­tions over­seas.

The new team took part in the Ir­ish Na­tional Cham­pi­onships last month and will also take part in Ras na mBan, a six day stage race in the Green Isle, in Septem­ber.

Cur­rently made up of four team mem­bers, in­clud­ing Thomas and Maire Claf­fey, pic­tured above, they’ll also com­pete in the UAE dur­ing the 2017/2018 sea­son.

“Our new spon­sors have a pas­sion for cy­cling – they love cy­cling – and our bud­get helps pay for a sup­port car at races, mas­sages, ac­com­mo­da­tion, race en­try, flights, things like that,” says Thomas.

“We’re hop­ing to set up ses­sions with girls as young as eight years old in schools in Abu Dhabi from Oc­to­ber, to teach them how to cy­cle and race,” she says. “I have one school in Abu Dhabi 90 per cent con­firmed.” Thomas is hop­ing the team ul­ti­mately turns pro­fes­sional. “It’s a dream of ours, but a very long-term one,” she adds. “We’re just happy to have over­seas races at the mo­ment.”

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