2020 LGCT and GCL season declared open at Al Shaqab in Doha, Qatar
The 2020 Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL were officially declared open today in Doha as top rider Nicola Philippaerts and local organisers hailed the 'amazing, prestigious' circuit and predicted an epic battle for the individual and team titles.
Nicola Philippaerts (BEL), one of the world's top riders and a member of the London Knights GCL team, said "It is an amazing circuit and all the best riders in the world do it. Everyone wants to win the title in the end. The top riders in the world are all here and we will see some nice sport this weekend". Nicola will be one to watch this season, and he brings some talented horses to the competiiton this weekend including Katanga, who placed fifth in the Grand Prix at last week's CHI event at Al Shaqab.
LGCT and GCL President and Founder, Jan Tops spoke of the huge anticipation among fans around the world for the kick off event of the season, and of the ever-increasing following that the tour has amassed; "I think Al Shaqab is a unique place in the world, I don’t think there is a second place like this, they really think of everything. The public attendance is increasing every year, which is very nice to see. The whole place is picture perfect. We are excited to see all the teams battle for their places for the title and also the riders to try and qualify all season for the LGCT Super Grand Prix in Prague which is very prestigious to win".
The tour has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2006, increasing from 6 events to this year’s calendar of 18 events including the GC Prague Playoffs, spanning 3 continents and 18 iconic locations around the world.
Omar Al Mannai, Commercial Manager of AL SHAQAB, spoke of the importance of hosting this opening leg, saying "Longines Global Champions Tour started in Doha in 2008, then in 2013 we started hosting LGCT here in Al Shaqab. LGCT is a tour that takes place all over the world, and of course it has boosted the sport all around the world. For us here in Doha, it’s incredible for riders, trainers, and so on to experience this kind of event. Besides that, the top sport of LGCT continues to attract new partners - local and international - to be part of this story here in Qatar and this is important for us as organisers and hosts. We now have almost 40,000 spectators attending over three days so we have really developed the event in that way too. We are looking forward to continue hosting this event in the future".
Fans around the world will be able to watch all the action live on GCTV throughout the weekend. The first round of the GCL team competition will begin at 17:45 (local time) on Thursday, with home team Doha Falcons looking for a good start to their campaign in front of a home crowd. Friday will see two top-level competitions, before the second round of the GCL competition takes place at 14:45 on Saturday. The LGCT Grand Prix of Doha kicks off at 18:15 on Saturday, with riders vying for the win as well as the first golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs.