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By Neal Rogers
Although news about the inaugural Tour of Missouri has been sparse over the past few months, the race is all systems go, says Medalist Sports managing partner Chris Aronhalt.
Medalist Sports, which oversees race management for the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour de Georgia and the USA Cycling National Professional Championships, will also manage the Tour of Missouri, scheduled for September 11-16. The race will begin in Kansas City and finish in St. Louis.
In a year that has seen both the Tour of Utah and the Montréal-Boston UCI stage races canceled due to lack of sponsorship, some had wondered whether the inaugural Missouri race would come off as planned.
Aronhalt said that while organizing a first-year event always presents more review and detail obstacles than a continuing event like California or Georgia, part of the lack of recent news comes down to timing; team and route announcements are expected in the coming weeks to coincide with interest generated by the Tour de France.
“Just earlier today I was on an executive-committee conference call chaired by the lieutenant governor of Missouri, Peter Kinder,” Aronhalt said. “Things are going as planned.
“We might have the first announcement of major ProTour teams expected this week. The next big one is the route, which is scheduled for mid-July. We’re just waiting for final approval from the department of transportation.”
Hours after Aronhalt spoke with VeloNews, Tour of Missouri marketing agency KOM Sports Marketing announced that Discovery Channel would attend the race. With the USA Cycling Professional National Championships held just one week earlier in Greenville, South Carolina, Medalist will no doubt hope to see top-shelf riders such as George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson compete in Greenville and carry on to Missouri.
Aronhalt acknowledged that Medalist is prepared for schedule conflicts with the September 1-23 Vuelta a España and the September 9-15 Tour of Britain. Competition director Kevin Livingston was at the Giro d’Italia, talking to ProTour teams and working out logistics, and he’ll continue those discussions at the Tour, Aronhalt said.
Aronhalt also acknowledged that Missouri is still without a title sponsor, but said that if need be, the race would likely survive as did the Tour de Georgia, which was under threat of cancellation before Medalist found several key secondary-level sponsorships.
“Fundraising is definitely a 24/7 effort,” Aronhalt said. “We’ve had a few discussions with potential title sponsors, but have signed none at this point.
“From the Medalist front, we’re pleased by the enthusiasm and understanding of what an event at this level takes. There are some great markets, particularly in cities like Kansas City and St. Louis. I think we’ll see some fresh faces in terms of sponsorships, which is good. We have 10-plus partners at this point, from both in state and out of state, but there is always that title-partnership search. As we did with the Tour de Georgia, we are also making sure the event is on solid enough foundation that we can proceed without a title partner.”
A 600-mile, six-day race, the Tour of Missouri will travel through Clinton, Springfield, Branson, Lebanon, Columbia, Jefferson City and St. Charles en route from Kansas City to St. Louis. The race will feature teams of eight from 15 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. The race is sanctioned by the UCI and ranked 2.1, second only the Tour de Georgia and Amgen Tour of California in North American cycling.
Tour of Missouri schedule
September 11 – Kansas City to Kansas City, road race (out and back)
September 12 – Clinton to Springfield, road race
September 13 – Branson, individual time trial
September 14 – Lebanon to Columbia, road race
September 15 – Jefferson City to St. Charles, road race
September 16 – St. Louis, circuit race
Clarke Makes It Two in a Row at Saturn Rochester Twilight
Team Navigators rider Hilton Clarke knows there’s more than one way to win a criterium. In 2006, the Aussie nailed the win in the Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium in a wild 50-rider pack sprint. This year, he was part a six-rider break that lapped the field, with Clarke besting the group of five to the line.
Now in its fourth year, the Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium included UCI points (cat 1.2) on the line, and well as points toward the season-long USA Cycling Professional Tour. With a wall-to-wall crowd estimated at 35,000, and $25,000 on the line in the pro-am men’s race, it earned its spot in the limelight.
In the first ten laps, a break of six went clear, including past Canadian National Criterium champion Cam Evan (Symmetrics), Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada riders Dominique Rollin and Mark Walters, Nerac’s Chris Jones, and the Navigators duo of Kyle Wamsley and Hilton Clarke.
While teams including Toyota-United, RiteAid and SuccessfulLiving missed the move and drove the chase behind, the front six continued drilling the pace in a smooth rotation, opening five seconds per lap. Just after the halfway point of the two hour race, the break saw the tail of the pack, and made the connection a few laps later.
Race officials decided to let the pack sprint for the minor placings with two laps to go, and give the lead six a clean sprint among themselves for the win.
Kodak’s duo, racing just blocks from their title sponsor’s headquarters, thirsted for the victory. “I tried something on the backstretch”, said Kodak’s Rollin, who recently scored three stage wins at Ireland’s RAS. But as in year’s past, Kodak was again denied, with the six popping out of the final corner packed together.
Clarke outmuscled all, coasting across the line arms aloft. “I told Kyle to ride the last lap like I wasn’t here,” said Clarke. “He covered anything, and then left the sprint to me.”
by Alan Cote’
Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium, June 23, 2007
1. Hilton Clarke, Navigators Insurance
2. Cam Evans, Symmetrics Cycling
3. Kyle Wamsley, Navigators Insurance
4. Mark Walters, Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada
5. Dominique Rollin, Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada
6. Chris Jones, Nerac
Wells Fargo Criterium returns July 21
The 21st annual Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium, one of the nation’s top crits, returns to downtown Boise on Saturday, July 21. Racing starts at 4 p.m. and concludes around 10:30 p.m. The event is part of the new USA Crits Championship Series, a national series that features the best criterium races and racers in North America.
The electric atmosphere and fast-paced action draws more than 20,000 people annually to downtown Boise to watch what has become one of that city’s major summer attractions. The 1km course runs through Downtown Boise on Main and Idaho Streets between 6th and 9th Streets. he start/finish line is located near Main St. and Capitol Blvd. Racers will compete for a purse of $20,000 in cash and merchandise.
Blumenauer initiative part of plan to green the Capitol
A bike-to-work program is part of a new plan to green the Capitol, unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The program, which will be implemented by a newly established employee transportation coordinator, includes improved parking for cyclists, showers and other changing facilities, and a bike-sharing program that would be available to House members and staff. “This is an exciting change on Capitol Hill, and I am pleased that the federal government is leading by example,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon). “The plan to green the Capitol shows we are walking the walk and doing our part this Congress to fight global warming. It’s important that we accommodate everyone on Capitol Hill who wants the option of biking to work, which is both good for the earth and good for our health.” Seven thousand people are employed in various capacities in the U.S. House of Representatives. Each day House employees make at least two trips — one to work and one home — for a total of 14,000 trips per day, or 70,000 trips per week. With a majority of these trips currently made by car, providing more incentives to bike to work is a one way to reduce congestion, lower emissions and benefit employees’ health. “We applaud the U.S. Congress for its leadership in unveiling this bold initiative, and we look forward to working with members of the Congressional Bike Caucus, under the leadership of Representative Blumenauer, to bring this plan to life,” said Andy Clarke, executive director of the American League of Bicyclists.”Bicycling is a simple, often overlooked solution to combat climate change, save energy, reduce congestion and promote physical activity.” Also included in the Green the Capitol plan are improved maintenance practices, such as eliminating certain chemicals and fertilizers, the use of alternative fuels, the greening of dining facilities, a car-sharing service for House employees and an increase in plants and trees on Capitol grounds. For more information, read the full report (pdf format).
Bloomer Park Velodrome gets some ink
Local racing at the Bloomer Park Velodrome in Rochester Hills, Michigan, is in the news in a Detroit Free Press piece written by Gina Damon.
Click here to read the article, headlined, “Wheels turn for amateurs and competitors at velodrome.”