You spin me right ‘round: Cisco and the Tour of Alberta

As the first ever televised professional cycling stage race in Western Canada, a six-stage sanctioned UCI 2.1 Pro Stage Race featuring global professional teams racing through the amazing landscape of Alberta, draws near I was excited to sit down with Canadian cycling legend Alex Stieda to talk about the inaugural Tour of Alberta, starting today.

Ryder Hesjedal at the Tour of Alberta. Photo courtesy Tour of Alberta (Facebook).

Ryder Hesjedal at the Tour of Alberta. Photo courtesy Tour of Alberta (Facebook).

Mark Collins: For those readers who aren’t familiar with Alex Stieda, professional cyclist, you were the first North American to ever wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. Tell us what that was like and how the Tour of Alberta came to be.

Alex Stieda: Winning the Yellow Jersey was a special honour – many pros have ridden the Tour de France for multiple years and have never worn Yellow, never mind winning a stage. I was truly humbled by the whole experience and the next day, I was encouraged by an 11-year veteran of the Tour to be sure that I finished to show that I was worthy of wearing it – sprinting down the Champs-Élysées on the last day was a very special moment for me.

The Tour of Alberta has been a dream of mine for 10 years. Two years ago my co-founder of the race, Jared Smith, was able to match him and me up with an Alberta government agency (Rural Alberta Development Fund) who realized that this type of event would showcase their work with the rural communities of the province. Ever since then, we‘ve had a dedicated team of people working hard to bring it to fruition – I can’t wait for it to begin!

 Alex Stieda at the Tour of Alberta Family Ride. Photo courtesy Tour of Alberta (Facebook).

Alex Stieda at the Tour of Alberta Family Ride. Photo courtesy Tour of Alberta (Facebook).

MC: So I have to ask, because you’re from Ontario. Why the province of Alberta?

AS:  As much as I love Ontario, Alberta is my home. And my company, Long View Systems, has deep roots here. We value our relationship with the province, and Cisco’s relationship with the province, so we saw this as an opportunity to show what Alberta can offer the world.

The Tour de France is a showcase for the country. You could even call it a 21-day infomercial for it.  We approach the Tour of Alberta the same way. We want to show everything we know that is amazing about Alberta to the rest of the world – the mountains, the prairies and everything in between. And in the wake of what happened with the floods this summer, it’s important for us to continue with this Tour.

MC: How has television changed cycling since you competed in the Tour de France in 1986?

AS: It’s completely changed it for the better. TV has popularized cycling and allowed fans to follow in ways never before possible. Now you can watch the cyclists at the beginning of the stage, and go on the journey with them right until the end.

This is what we hope our fans experience at the tour this year. We want them to utilize mobile devices to follow their favourite athletes and re-create that television experience – where they can ‘see’ what is happening at all points of the race – right at the event.

MC: Moving onto your current role as a senior account manager with Long View Systems, a Cisco Gold partner, there is an interesting new service you’re launching called Long View OnDemand.  Can you tell us a bit more about what LVoD is and why you are introducing it?

AS: Long View OnDemand is our complete cloud solution for customers.  As a Cisco Cloud Builder partner, we’ve built this based on Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod technology. That’s a lot of tech-speak, but it means our customers can be confident their data is safe in our hands.  It’s important that our customers know they are getting the best solution, and this is it.

As to why we are introducing Long View OnDemand, I think of it this way. If you are a company that houses your data locally – that is, in your office – and your back up is also in that same location, what happens if there is a flood? Or a power surge? Or you need to add racks? Not all companies have the resources to adequately protect their data, or to even keep up with growth. We do.  And I think there are a lot of businesses that can benefit from hosting their data with us.

My sincere thanks to Alex for taking the time to talk to me about his career, the Tour of Alberta and Long View OnDemand.

If you’d like to follow the inaugural Tour of Alberta this September 3-8, the complete broadcast schedule is available on the Tour of Alberta website.

About Mark Collins

As Vice President, Partner Organization, Mark Collins is responsible for managing Cisco's partner strategy in Canada. He works closely with sales, marketing, architectures, Industry, Services and Operations to drive a cohesive Partner Success platform. In his spare time you just might find Mark keeping the backbeat ‎on his drums in a pub near you! À titre de vice-président des activités des partenaires, Mark Collins est responsable de la gestion de la stratégie des partenaires Cisco au Canada. Il travaille en étroite collaboration avec les équipes du service de la mise en marché et des ventes, des architectures, des secteurs, des services et des activités pour créer une plateforme uniforme de réussite des partenaires. À l’occasion, dans ses temps libres, Mark donne le tempo lorsqu’il joue de la batterie dans un bar près de chez vous!
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