The inaugural HERO Abu Dhabi Hudayriyat Island will take place from 9-11 February 2024 on Al Hudayriyat Island, attracting elite cross country mountain bike riders to the emirate, as part of the first HERO event to be held in Abu Dhabi.

The hosting of the global sports event strengthens Abu Dhabi’s credentials as a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Bike City. HERO Abu Dhabi Hudayriyat Island is organised by HERO Südtirol Dolomites and Modon as part of its efforts to create a lasting sports legacy for Abu Dhabi.

Set to take place at Trail X, a state-of-the-art mountain biking facility, HERO Abu Dhabi will attract professional cyclists, amateurs, and bike enthusiasts.

The programme will mark a significant milestone with the inclusion of the XCO-Cross-Country Olympic and XCC-Short Track events – qualifying races for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The XCO circuit spans 5.4km with an elevation gain of 70 hm, while the XCC Short Tracks, designed for high-speed action, covers 1.2km with an elevation gain of 10hm. Meanwhile, mountain biking enthusiasts of all ages can participate in the Amateur Race and Kids’ Race, competing on the very same trails as potential future Olympic medalists.

Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, emphasised the significance of Abu Dhabi hosting the upcoming global event, noting that it would be the first of its kind in the Middle East, on Al Hudayriat Island.

Al Awani said: “Abu Dhabi Sports Council supports hosting and organising the event, which witnesses the participation of an elite group of international cyclists, out of our belief in its importance and impact on influencing a healthy lifestyle, at a time when cycling is witnessing a major boom in Abu Dhabi in particular and the UAE in general.”

Among the participating cyclists is Peter Sagan, the three-time road cycling champion, who said: “This will be my first year as a professional mountain biker. I’m intrigued to see how things will pan out. I won’t predict anything, but I feel optimistic: I’m motivated, I want to have fun and give it my all. It’s supposed to be an incredibly technical race, so I’ll arrive a few days before the race to train on the tracks.”

Since the first edition of HERO Südtirol Dolomites that took place in Italy in 2010, the HERO series has grown from strength to strength and become one of the most popular mountain bike races in the world. The event embodies the quintessence of mountain biking, turning the word HERO into a byword for passion, dedication, and breathtaking nature.

In 2022, the HERO Organising Committee joined Sports for Climate Action, a UN initiative aimed at fighting the climate crisis by making sports events more sustainable. In line with this goal, all events in the series, including HERO Abu Dhabi Hudayriyat Island, are implementing proactive measures to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Hudayriyat Island is home to a wide range of world-class cycling facilities and infrastructure that cater to athletes of all levels. The destination’s well-maintained cycling trails as well as Trail X, the only mountain bike trail in Abu Dhabi that spans 15km in length with four difficulty levels, make it a prime location for high-profile international cycling events. In addition, Modon is currently developing Velodrome Abu Dhabi, set to launch in 2025, that will feature the first UCI Category 1 indoor cycling track in the region.

Hudayriyat Island will also host the 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships event that aims to promote high-level competition for elite and amateur cyclists while globalizing the ‘Cycling for All’ initiative.