By Kathleen Thomas
St. Christopher’s School
People often ask Tim Miller ’88 how he snagged the job as Richmond 2015’s chief operating officer.
The truth is, he created it.
Miller, then working in information technology, heard rumblings that the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, might be interested in seeing its flagship event return to America. He helped lobby city officials to support a bid for the Road World Championships last held here in 1986. When the city agreed, he left his well-paying job for an eight-month gig to lobby, fundraise and pull together a bid. “It was a big risk,” he said. “The way I looked at it, if I didn’t take that chance I would always regret it.”
That was 2011. Now only a couple days away, Richmond 2015 the UCI Road World Championships predicts an economic impact of $129.2 million while drawing more than 450,000 spectators during its nine-day run. Miller’s fast-paced job overseeing seven full-time workers includes organizing and wrestling with diverse issues such as parking, paving, volunteers, sponsorships, police and public safety, transportation and media, and working with strategic partners and consultants. Former St. Christopher’s parent and board member,
Richmond 2015 Chief Executive Officer Wilson Flohr likened the job to being an orchestra leader. “It’s a coordinating exercise being able to juggle a number of issues on a regular basis,” he said. “He’s done a terrific job, is very detail oriented and has delivered us to where we are today.”
The group’s bid banked on the history of and support for biking in this region – largely the Tour DuPont, an event Miller worked on early in his career. After graduating from Roanoke College he snagged a media and public relations internship with the event organizer and promoter, holding various roles there until that race ended in 1996.
With limited sports career opportunities in Richmond, Miller pursued a computer science degree and worked in network administration for CapTech Ventures. When owners sought a marketing vehicle to help grow the company, Miller pitched a bike race sponsorship, and the CapTech Classic was born. Miller split his time between administration and organizing all aspects of the race which became one of the top cycling events in the country during its four-year span. “It helped our business by showing that we were committed to the community supporting a sport that our employees enjoy and assisted in our recruiting efforts,” said CapTech Chairman Sandy Williamson, STC class of 1979. “Many prospective employees and clients in our industry are also avid cyclists so it was a good investment.”
After leaving CapTech, an entrepreneurial effort to create cycling’s first U.S. Open didn’t go as hoped. A partner fallout resulted in Miller stepping away just before the event took place and a return to work in information technology.
Miller expects the most rewarding part of working for Richmond 2015 might hit during the final race. “I imagine that will be a moment of significant satisfaction and accomplishment,” he said. “Right now, we’re still down in the trenches every minute of every day, finalizing details, working through plans, making sure every ‘i’ is dotted, every ‘t’ is crossed.”
When the race wrap up concludes, his next steps are undetermined. Miller seeks another creative venture that makes a difference. “That’s what fascinates me — ‘How do you create an opportunity to solve some problem?‘”
Miller has never been one to be deterred. As a kid, he raced BMX dirt bikes until rupturing a disk at age 13, an injury attributed to the constant pounding on his young frame. He then turned to road bikes and after college entered his first race, dreaming of being the next Greg Lemond while working his way up the ranks in regional competitions.
Save the Date:
Come watch the Men’s Elite Road Circuit go by St. Christopher’s and Three Chopt and then walk or bike to the Lower School playground for a race party from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 27. Click here for address and directions.