Sibling confident UAE champion can one day race at the Tour de France

Older brother Badr Mirza lauds Yousuf’s growth

Badr Mirza is hoping to use his experience to guide a young selection of UAE riders at the Dubai Tour.
Dubai: Yousuf Mirza has at least one influential and constant person in his life — his older brother Badr.
Four years his senior, Badr has been predominantly credited with the rise of Yousuf into the world of cycling. From a tiny eight-year-old running around the narrow alleys of Khor Fakkan near Fujairah, Yousuf shot into the limelight and today, is thought of as being one of the great cyclists coming out of the Gulf.
“Growing up, he [Yousuf] just wanted to be involved in any sort of physical activity. Since I was already a cyclist with my club team, I introduced him to the sport as well, but not before making sure I trained him and showed him the basics over a two-year period,” Badr recalled.
That home course that taught cycling fundamentals saw young Yousuf learn quickly and very soon the youngster bagged the UAE national champion title.
At the same time, life was not easy for the senior Mirza with the untimely demise of both their parents. With very little choice, Badr put his cycling career on hold for four years, but ensured that the loss did not affect young Yousuf’s progress in chasing his cycling dreams.
Very soon, Yousuf was winning races — smaller ones at first and then on to the bigger ones, with the overall classification triumph at the 2013 Tour of Al Zubarah in Qatar — a 2-2 race on the UCI Asia Tour — among more notable performances.
In 2013, Yousuf went on to win the Sharjah Cycling Tour and capped a fine season by coming in first in the mountains classification at the Tour d’Algerie. However, his breakaway season came in 2015 when he bagged the silver medal at the Asian Road Race Cycling Championships to seal his spot at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Given his stature of currently being the best rider in the UAE, it was but natural that he would become the first-ever UAE cyclist to ride in a ProTour team such as the UAE Abu Dhabi outfit. “This had been my goal and his goal for a long time. But merely racing in a team is not enough. Now he [Yousuf] has to start delivering on his potential,” Badr said.
“He has got his chance at last and he needs to find ways and means to make optimum use of these opportunities that come his way. I believe that Yousuf can be the first cyclist from the UAE to ride in the Tour de France in the near future. This is my biggest ambition for him,” he added.
His initial goal nearly accomplished, Badr has now eased his attention towards preparing the next crop of youngsters while leading the UAE National Selection team at the ongoing Dubai Tour that concludes on Saturday. “The idea is to have some sort of continuity, and this can be done only if there is a new breed of cyclists coming through,” Badr offered.
“The next couple of years will be crucial for these young cyclists, and we hope we can have one or two more making it at least into a pro team,” he added.
Gulf News

Date : 2/4/2017 11:05:05 AM

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