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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vande Velde joins Tour of Missouri field

The Tour of Missouri got a big boost with announcement today that Tour de France fifth-place finisher Christian Vande Velde will be part of this year's field.

Vande Velde, a native of the Chicago suburb of Lemont, is giving the Tour of Missouri a boost in much the same way the addition of 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and 2007 third-place finisher Levi Leipheimer gave the inaugural race a boost last year. I would think Chicago-area cycling fans would want to come down to Missouri to see their hero sometime over the course of the race. Vande Velde rides for the American Garmin-Chipotle cycling team.

The 32-year-old Vande Velde, one American cycling’s big revelations in the post-Lance Armstrong era, surprised the world by finishing less than a couple minutes out of the podium at this year’s Tour de France. Known as a top trialist most of his career, Vande Velde showed amazing climbing skills and has matured into one of the world’s best all-around riders. Earlier in the year, he finished 3rd overall in the Amgen Tour of California and last year finished second overall at the Tour de Georgia, two of North America’s biggest races. He finished 17th overall in the road race at the Olympic Games two weeks ago.

Vande Velde will be joined by Garmin-Chipotle teammates that include U.S. Olympic team member David Zabriskie, Tour de France team member Danny Pate and Will Frischkorn, who finished second overall at last year’s Tour of Missouri and narrowly missed winning a Tour de France stage last month.

Zabriskie is the only American to ever win a stage of all three of professional cycling’s Grand Tours (France, Italy, and Spain), and is a two-time time trial champion and former Tour de France race leader. Pate won Stage 5 of last year’s Tour of Missouri, breaking away to win into St. Charles. Pate is a former Under-23 world champion.

Also joining the field is 2008 Tour of Switzerland champion Roman Kreuzinger.

The Tour of Missouri opens Sept. 8 with a stage from St. Joseph to Kansas City and closes Sept. 14 with a circuit race in St. Louis.

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Roger 2 comments links to this post 8:50 AM

This promises to be a good Tour. Won't defending champ George Hincapie be there as well? Two top-notch American teams -- Garmin and Columbia -- will do battle. Cool.
Gene, you're correct. George will be there to defend his title and I know he'll do well, but I'm going to pull for the man from the Land of Lincoln this year!
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