Cyclingheroes: Who is Frank Arokiasamy?
Frank Arokiasamy: Frank is a corporate consultant,
who is working on his own firm now. He has a Doctorate in Economics from the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He
is not a Cyclist but someone with experience in Business.
Cyclingheroes: When did you came up with the
idea to create a Tour of America?
Frank Arokiasamy: I was watching the Tour De
France in July 2002, and watching Lance, and other Americans, and team US Postal doing incredibly well, but had no opportunity
to see any of them compete in an upper echelon race in the US. So I asked myself, why not have one in the US and have spent
5 years putting this together.
Cyclingheroes: What kind of feedback did you
receive after you announced your plans for a Tour of America at the Interbike show?
Frank Arokiasamy: Essentially two kinds: 1.
Route is too long and you are crazy. 2. We need to make this happen and its about time America had a Grand tour. Make it happen
and I will do anything to help you make it happen.
Cyclingheroes: Did you get reactions from professional
teams and riders too?
Frank Arokiasamy: We have sent potential invitations
to the best teams, and many of them wanted more information. Reactions were good but understandably cautious.
Cyclingheroes: Did you discuss the Tour of America
with the UCI and the top teams?
Frank Arokiasamy: Yes we have had some preliminary
Cyclingheroes: The UCI has finalized its calender
for 2008 already. If the race is not sanctioned by the UCI, the top teams are (according to UCI rules) not allowed to start
at the Tour of America. Wouldn't it be better to organize the first edition of the Tour of America in 2009?
Frank Arokiasamy: We are not sanctioned at this
point but hope to convince them to sanction us. Yes, it would be easier to do it for 2009, but that would also require another
huge capital infusion.
Cyclingheroes: How are potential sponsors reacting,
and are there companies which have signed a contract to sponsor the Tour of America already?
Frank Arokiasamy: They are very interested in
being part of something so big. We are trying to convince them that this is going to be a massive world wide spectacle that
they would benefit from.
Cyclingheroes: The original race schedule featured
very long stages. Can you say something about the new route?
Frank Arokiasamy: We listened to the experts
and decided we needed to comply. They were absolutely right about the stage lengths. So we have a route that still goes across
the country with some spectacular sites in between.
Cyclingheroes: As you probably know European
pro cycling is in one of its biggest crises ever. Who will conduct anti-doping tests at the Tour of America?
Frank Arokiasamy: We are talking to a couple
of organizations that we could contract with. The thing is, I look at the whole doping issue in a different light. I think
it's a great day for cycling that we have caught so many athletes in cycling. It shows a sincere desire to clean up the sport
and protect the long term health and well being of the cyclist. It's a great day when then ruling bodies in cycling like UCI
and de Grand Tours do this. It's about putting the sports and people above greed and money. The reason that a lack of exposure
of drug use in other sports exists is their lack of desire to come clean and protect their athletes and the kids that follow
the sport and their heroes. Just an opinion.