By Amina Nazarli
The Azerbaijan Cycling Federation is already busy with plans to hold the 2015 Tour d’Azerbaidjan on May 6-10.
Changes in the race route for this year are expected and new teams are set to attend the tour. The Federation will use its experience to arrange the cycling events at the first-ever European Games to be held in Baku in June.
“The Tour d’Azerbaidjan has already been a significant part of Azerbaijan’s sports, and every year thousands of spectators impatiently await this event,” said Farhad Aliyev, General Secretary of the Federation. “The Cycling Federation of Azerbaijan has taken a massive responsibility by strengthening and paying attention to the organizational side of the event.”
In addition, some big stars are expected to attend the race. “Last year we invited 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and the 9-time Tour de France stage winner Jamoleddin Abduljaparov. Our spectators enjoyed seeing them in Baku, and this year as well we have decided to make this event a lot more interesting for our spectators,” he said.
There is increased interest amongst teams to take part in the Tour d’Azerbaidjan, and “The reason is simple. It is because all visiting guests enjoy their visits in Baku,” Aliyev said. “A number of teams have requested to take part in the Tour. Among them are both continental and pro-continental teams, such as RusVelo of Russia, Androni Giocattoli of Italy and Drapac of Australia, as Pro-Conti teams. In addition, this year we have confirmed the participation of Slovenia’s Adria Mobil and Luxembourg's Leopard Development continental teams. Discussions are still open and we still welcome strong teams to blend our tour’s stages in 2015.”
The Federation is involved in more than just organizing this race. “2014 was very productive year for our Cycling Federation. We organized a lot of interesting bike competitions in Baku and in different regions of Azerbaijan for children from schools and universities," Aliyev noted.
These competitions are merely an expression of the increased popularity of cycling in Azerbaijan. In the past during Soviet era the situation was not satisfactory. “However, after the fundamental changes in the administration of the Federation in 2011, the cycling sport got back into good shape. We are more than grateful to the government of Azerbaijan for supporting the Azerbaijan’s sport in all terms,” the general secretary said.
The Federation is also busy with arrangements for the first European Games, to be held in June. Three cycling disciplines will be included, road, mountain biking and BMX. The MTB track was first used last October and is ready now. “The last stage of the Tour d’Azerbaidjan 2015 is expected to be cycling operations readiness for Baku 2015 European Games as the tour’s last stage covers the same route in the Baku city centre.”
With only four months left, it looks as if the federation has everything under its control till the first stage of the Tour d’Azerbaidjan sets off from the shores of the Caspian Sea in the capital city of Baku.