Lumsden: WC 2003 on track and will stay in Hamilton
What's in store for the 2003 World Road Cycling Championships?
Hamilton, Ont. -- First there was a protest about closing off streets. Then the city council got stingy about its funding commitments. Next the war in Iraq broke out. And, finally, SARS hit Toronto.
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What else is in store for 2003 Hamilton World Road Cycling Championships, which are due to take place October 6-12?
Whatever it is, moving the WC 2003 from Hamilton is definitely not in the cards.
"[Since it was selected] Hamilton is the one place -- and the only place -- that has been considered for the 2003 World Championships," says Neil Lumsden, WC General Manager and Chief Operating Officer. "The World Championshps are not leaving Hamilton. "
Lumsden was reacting to rumors that the WC will be moved to Montreal, which hosted the event in 1974 (Eddy Merckx won).
But, while quashing the rumors, Lumsden did admit that the WC 2003 has had its problems of late.
These began with the formal launch last October of the WC that Hamiltonians finally woke up to the fact that a prestigious international sporting event would take place in the city in about a year's time.
Where exactly would the race take place, the wanted to know? The WC got its website up and running and the first major piece of information on it was the race course.
The 12.4 km circuit course, which the elite men's road race will cover 21 times, will serve, most informed people agree, brilliantly as a bike-racing course and a symbol for the city.
It ties the upper and lower parts of Hamilton together. For six days in October citizens and visitors alike will be made aware as never before of its greatest natural asset -- the Niagara Escarpment -- which provides the course's two major climbs.
But don't tell any of this to some members of the city's merchant class. When it finally dawned on them that significant portions of three downtown thoroughfares (Main, James and Queen streets), plus two important mountain accesses would be closed to motorized traffic during the entire October 6-12 period, they let out a collective howl of protest.
Millions upon millions of business revenue dollars would be lost, they wailed. Workers would have to be laid off.
The owner of a downtown car dealership let it be known that he was organizing a class action lawsuit against the city to recover lost business revenues.
(The possibility that at least some businesses might benefit from the WC was mentioned by some but drowned out in the chorus of anti-WC sentiment and hand wringing.)
Not to be outdone, parents (mothers mainly) of school children decried the closing of schools during the WC week (a decision made by local school boards). What would they do with the kiddies?
WC staff hastily convened a series of community forums to quell the uprising.
The basic elements of a plan to keep the city's essential services