DOHA (Reuters) - The 2017 Tour of Qatar has been canceled due to the lack of a financial sponsor, cycling's ruling body announced.
The stage race, due to take place in Doha in February, was called off because of "difficulty attracting sponsor financial support," the International Cycling Union (UCI) said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The announcement is a blow to the sporting ambitions of Qatar which has hosted the race for 15 years.
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The Gulf state is planning for the 2022 soccer World Cup and has hosted the Asian soccer cup, the Men's Handball World Championship and the FINA World Swimming Championships.
Previous editions of Tour of Qatar have been won by top cyclists including Britain's Mark Cavendish and Belgium's Tom Boonen.
In October Qatar became the first Arab country to host the UCI Road World Championships, an event which was hailed by Qatar as a success but which detractors criticized for the heat and low fan turnout.
(Reporting by Tom Finn, editing by Neil Robinson)