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Organizers promise some surprises in the third edition of the all-new Tour of Missouri, which kicks off on Labor Day in St. Louis and concludes a week later in Kansas City.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) won last year’s edition, while George Hincapie (Discovery) triumphed in the inaugural event, and race director Jim Birrell says it will take a strong man to win the 2009 tour, too.
“Missouri is a very deceiving state topographically,” said Birrell. “Because of the many rivers, the terrain is full of short steep hills. And the Ozarks are filled with non-stop climbs.”
The seven-day, 612-mile stage race begins September 7 with a fast, flat, 75-mile circuit race in St. Louis. Stage 2 is a rolling, 112.4-mile leg from Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau, with a technical finishing circuit on the riverfront.
Stage 3 is the big one — a hilly, 114.3-mile race from Farmington to Rolla with more than 6,000 feet of climbing through the northern Ozark Mountains.
Stage 4 is the only holdover from the 2008 edition. This 109.2-mile leg takes riders from St. James to Jefferson City, where they face a finishing circuit with a steep 300-meter uphill sprint to the line.
A flat, fast 18-mile individual time trial around the state fairgrounds in Sedalia awaits on Stage 5, followed by another tough day in the saddle, the rolling, windswept 110.3-mile stage 6 from Chillicothe to St. Joseph, which finishes in front of Joseph’s City Hall.
The finale, a hilly 72.3-mile circuit race through downtown Kansas City, will feature two king-of-the-mountain points and more than 3000 feet of climbing.
“I think they did a great job of capturing the challenging terrain of the state,” said Rory Sutherland (OUCH-Maxxis), who has raced the two previous editions.
ProTour teams slated to complete include Astana, Cervélo TestTeam, Columbia-HTC, Garmin-Slipstream, Liquigas, Saxo Bank and QuickStep.
Domestic teams participating include Bissell, BMC Racing, Colavita-Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefit Strategies, OUCH-Maxxis, and Team Type 1. Canada’s top team, Planet Energy, rounds out the field.
Team rosters will be announced in late August.