Tour of Missouri announces strong lineup
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tour of Missouri announces strong lineup

by VeloNation Press at 8:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Press Release
Event organizers and Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder today announced the first five teams for the third Tour of Missouri professional cycling race, scheduled for September 7-13, 2009

Top United States-based teams Garmin-Slipstream and Columbia-High Road, one of Italy's top pro tour teams Liquigas, as well as the Swiss-based Cervelo Test Team, have been announced.

"We have had record interest in the event, which has precipitated the early announcement of the first teams committed to participate," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of event organizer Medalist Sports. "The stature of the Tour of Missouri continues to grow, and the participation of top teams like Columbia-High Road, Garmin-Slipstream, Liquigas, and Cervelo --- all teams expected to race in the Tour de France this year --- justifies this event's world-class reputation. We anticipate the announcement of more teams in the next couple weeks."

The overall course will take on a very different slant in 2009. For the first time, the race will route east to west, starting in St. Louis and finishing in Kansas City. The past two years, the race routed west to east starting in Kansas City to finish in St. Louis.

"To attract some of the top teams in the world shows how important the Tour of Missouri has become," said Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. "The caliber of athletes and teams will translate directly into more spectators and more economic impact for the state and host cities."

Garmin-Slipstream is expected to field a top team that will include 2008 Tour of Missouri Race Champion Christian Vande Velde. In the off-season, the team also signed Canadian Svein Tuft, who finished third overall in last year's race.

"We're coming back to Missouri to win again," said Garmin-Slipstream's general manager Jonathan Vaughters. "It's a major objective for us, as it's our chance to show Garmin and its employees what we're all about in their backyard."

Added Vande Velde: "I liked the Tour of Missouri last year. It was well publicized, well organized and had great spectators. Truly world class. It was great to finish my season with a major stage race in the Midwest and not far from my home (in the Chicago area). I look forward to coming back to defend my title with my Garmin teammates."

Columbia-High Road features 2007 Tour of Missouri champion George Hincapie of Greenville, S.C., and Britain's Mark Cavendish, who won three stages of the 2008 race and the Edward Jones Sprint Points jersey, and widely is considered the world's 'fastest man on two wheels.'

"We are looking forward to sending a top team to Missouri again this year," said Bob Stapleton, the owner and general manager of Team Columbia-High Sports, the No. 1-ranked team in the world last season. "We had a great time last year with good success (four stage wins and second place overall). We look to come back and do the same again this year. The race is very well organized and the people of Missouri were extremely welcoming and enthusiastic about the racing."

Liquigas, an entrant into last year's race, is one of Italy's top teams and last year was led by Czech Republic's Roman Kreuziger, who won the Best Young Rider jersey.

The Cervelo Test Team will be a first-time entrant into the Tour of Missouri. Cervelo's team features 2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, top Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd, who already has won a stage of the Amgen Tour of California and Het Volk event this year, and Dominque Rollin, who finished third overall in the 2007 Tour of Missouri and won the Michelob ULTRA King of the Mountain jersey last year.

Race rosters will not be announced until next August but team directors are already talking about sending many of their top stars, said Aronhalt.

The race will be contested over seven days and seven stages. There will be two circuit races (St. Louis, Kansas City), one individual time trial (Sedalia), and four point to point road races (Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau; Farmington to Rolla; St. James to Jefferson City; Chillicothe to St. Joseph).

The overall mileage for the course is expected to be more than 600 miles.

Though a stellar world-class field was presented last year, the three-year-old race is expected to be even better as the Tour of Missouri was granted an upgrade to one of the top five-ranked events outside Europe by international and national federation's for cycling. The upgrade will guarantee more top teams. Additional teams will be announced in coming weeks.

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