November 6/02 5:06 am - Interview with Hamilton Worlds COO, Franco Ballerini Interview
Posted by Editor on 11/6/02
Interview with Hamilton 2003 COO Neil Lumsden
The Hamilton 2003 world championships organization has made a significant step forward with the hiring of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) to take charge of day-to-day operations for the event. Neil Lumsden, a Burlington-based business man, has been chosen for the position.
Lumsden is the former General Manager and Director of Football Operations for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL team. He is also the President of True Gravity Sports, an athlete representation and sport marketing company. True Gravity represents Pat Quinn (Toronto Maple Leafs) and skiier Melanie Turgeon, among others.
We had a chance sit down with Lumsden for a few minutes today, on his first full day at the job.
CC How did your name come forward for this position?
NL It was a combination of factors. I received a telephone call to see if I was interested, then there were a number of telephone calls and meetings to see if it was a good fit. I did my own research as well, to see what it was all about.
CC Why did you want to get involved, since it is not a sport that you have been involved in before?
NL I saw this as a tremendous opportunity for the community (of Hamilton / Burlington), and I wanted to see something special happen. My background is football, but I've been in the business of sports my whole career. I don't involve myself in things that I don't get passionate about.
CC What is your role in the organization?
NL My role is to bring everything together, to get the structure in place. It's a matter of bringing all the components together and making it a success, a huge success. My background applies to the business behind this event. The reality of the situation is that a lot of work has already been done. On the technical side we are well advanced. I wouldn't have stepped in if I didn't believe in what had been done (so far).
CC What are the priorities at this time?
NL The first priority is filling out the structure, putting in the foundation, personnel-wise. These are the building blocks of the business. We need to get people in all the key positions so that we can begin to move forward quickly. After that, we can start filling in the strategy in each area in a relatively short time. I can't say that there will be such and such a person in a position by next Tuesday, but it will happen very quickly now. Do I think there is enough time? Absolutely, there is no doubt in my mind.
Mr Lumsden will be introduced to the Board on Friday.
COO Neil Lumsden with Event Manager Dana Cunningham
Italian Federation in Hamilton
The Italian Cycling Federation sent a delegation to Hamilton this week to check out the course and the facilities. Members of the delegation have been inspecting hotels in the area to determine which one will be suitable for the team next year (they will be taking approximately 50-60 rooms). One member of the delegation was Franco Ballerini, former pro (who won the Paris-Roubaix, among many other races) and Italian Team Director for the 2002 Worlds. He is credited for keeping the normally fractious Italian pros from fighting among themselves so that they could do their amazing job of controlling the race for eventual winner Mario Cipollini. We had a few minutes to speak with Mr Ballerini before he went out for a ride of the circuit.
"This will be a hard race - not as hard as Lugano (Switzerland, 1996) or Colombia (1995), which was very hard, but it will be difficult. It is hard to say how the race will develop because it depends upon how the riders interpret the race, what tactics they make. But the second climb is where the race is going to be won - you go up and then straight down, with no time to rest. This is where it will happen."
Note: We also spoke with him, halfway through the ride, when he admitted that the circuit "is harder then it looks, when you are on a bike compared to a car. The second climb has a lot of wind, so it will be quite difficult."
Franco Ballerini with Steve Bauer
Ballerini taped a video camera to his handlebars, to keep a record of the course