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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stage 3 guest commentary

Since I haven't been able to attend any of the early stages of the Tour of Missouri because of various commitments, I'm offering guest commentary tonight from Jerry Whittle.

Jerry is a ride leader for the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society and a regular on the Gateway Council of Hostelling International's 5-Star Century circuit. One of his daughters, Laura, is a member of Midwestern State University's cycling team, so I think Jerry's more than qualified to offer commentary about his Tour of Missouri experience:
We were in Springfield to watch the end of Stage 2 yesterday. (George) Hincapie sure put on a show. The breakaway put in a lot of time on the rest of the peloton. Almost certainly one of the breakaway group will win this tour.

Today was the Individual Time Trial in Branson. Branson is a great place for a race. Lots of hotel rooms and things to do after the race. The roads are HILLY. The ITT was more like a hill climb than TT.

Unfortunately, the finish line was blocked by the time we got there due to a lack of parking. The crowds were even larger than they expected. We were there a half hour before the first rider was due in. I’m sure that they will learn from this if they go through Branson again.

Therefore, Patti (Jerry's wife) and I found a nice place towards the top of a long, steep hill at mile 12. We were just inches from the riders! There were about 100 other spectators on the hill and this was at mile 12!

Just as we got there, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador flew by. A while later Levi Leipheimer blasted up the hill. He looked great and was as he won the stage. Last came George in the yellow jersey and he looked very focused. I don’t think that he even heard my cowbell ringing. George finished a couple of minutes behind Levi, but ahead of the others in the previous day’s breakaway. Therefore he’s even more likely to win the whole thing.

Between my yelling and ringing a cowbell and his being really close and fast while passing by, I managed to ruin the chance for a perfect photo by cutting off half of George’s head. Now I know why I’m not a professional photographer.

The weather has been perfect. Low 80s, little wind, and dry. Branson might not be Paris, but it made for a great bike race venue.

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