Confirmation has arrived of yesterday’s story on the blog that Qatar Airways have signed a deal with the Tour de France to provide air transport for the race. The company’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker is already in town for the Paris air show and as well as ordering some new planes, he shook hands with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Tour organiser Christian Prudhomme today. As expected the airline will now fly riders from Grenoble to Paris-Orly after Stage 20…
…but what if this deal has more to it?
Qatar already has its own bike race but the country is hosting the soccer World Cup in 2022. A twitter correspondent came up with what sounded like a wild idea at first but what if the Tour de France started in Qatar in 2022 or before? If so what better way to get publicity for the national flag-carrying airline than to fly the entire Tour de France to the Arabian gulf and back, preferably with riders in first class?
It might sound far fetched but as any Qatari will tell you, they dream big there and money is rarely an obstacle. That said, there are some things even petrodollars cannot buy. The weather might be the issue given it is 42°C (108°F) right now.