UAE team emirates look to defend their title

David Brady, Associate Director, UAE
The Tour de France is not only the world’s biggest bike race, but a significant cultural event in France that goes back to a time before bikes! It can actually be traced to young apprentice artisans travelling around the country to work with skilled masters to learn their craft. This was a process known as the ‘Tour de France.’

At the end of the 19th century when the modern bicycle was designed, France had established a stable Republic and set itself the task of building a new united France.

The founders of the Grand Boucle were motivated by the same patriotic instincts and decided on the title ‘Tour de France’ for their race, which would ultimately travel around France, highlighting both the unity and resilience of its people.

In short, when the Tour was launched it presented cycling as a way of binding the country’s people together after a vulnerable and turbulent period in its history.

It is therefore fitting that this year’s edition returns, not just with the world’s best bike riders but also the fans; those who often animate the stages with more energy and enthusiasm than the peloton itself.

As global sport emerges from the height of the pandemic and we start to see fans in pubs, stadiums, arenas and – in the case of bike racing – the side of the road, it’s a time to reflect on the important role they play in making sport matter.

It’s this insight that has led the comms team in the middle east to build a Tour de France community activation for our client UAE Team Emirates.

Since the UAE’s de facto national team won the Tour in 2020, cycling has seen yet another surge in popularity across the Emirates. Their success also helped convince many of the country’s major businesses that investing in the team and the sport was a strategically sound way of helping to drive the government’s health and wellness agenda.

ADNOC, being an important ambassador for Abu Dhabi and a key partner of the team, wanted to show their support of both the riders and the team’s fans, by delivering an event that rewarded the whole UAE cycling community.

This has led to the inception of Tour de Yas… On Tuesday 13th July, as the peloton tackles a 169km route from Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens, ADNOC and UAE Team Emirates will be turning Yas Marina Circuit yellow. The track will be closed to all but cyclists and a small ‘fan village’ set up to screen the last 50km of the race.

UAE Team Emirates’ Matteo Trentin – a Tour de France veteran himself – will host a video Q+A and provide live punditry as the race unfolds, giving fans a unique insight into the tactics and mindsets of those leading the front of the peloton.

Once the stage has finished (with Tadej Pogacar on the top of the podium we hope) local cyclists will be invited to test out their own legs by setting a fastest lap time on the world famous circuit and be rewarded with a Tour jersey, signed by Pogacar himself. Not a bad prize at all!

The activation may only be one night, and pale in comparison to the three week experience of riding a Grand Tour, however it is yet another big step forward for CSM, as we continue to cultivate a sense of national pride around the team and push cycling further along its journey in the UAE.