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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New leader in the Tour of Missouri

Judging from the headline in the cycling world this week, the news about Lance Armstrong resuming his cycling career has far overshadowed this year's Tour of Missouri.

In case you're wondering, Lance Armstrong did not win the Stage 3 time trial today in Branson, Mo. He isn't the overall leader in the race. In fact, he's not even in the race.

But the winner of Stage 3 is Garmin-Chipotle rider Christian Vande Velde. As a result of his time trial victory, Vande Velde also now owns the yellow jersey as the leader in the general classification.

Vande Velde won the hilly 18-mile time trial in 39:51. Columbia’s Michael Rogers was (40:12), and Sven Tuft of Symmetrics was third (40:24).

Columbia's Mark Cavendish, who won the first two stages, struggled as expected. He finished the circuit in 44 minutes.

Here's your top five in the GC:

1. Vande Velde, 8:48:24
2. Rogers, 21 seconds back
3. Tuft, 44 seconds back
4. George Hincapie (Columbia), 1:02 back
5. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Chipotle), 1:10 back

Vande Velde told VeloNews that the course as brutal. "Everyone told me that it was really hard,” he said. “You just have to see it to believe it."

Missouri may not have the long, sustained climbs like other parts of the world, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, it has its share of short, steep ones.

Tour of Missouri competitors will see more of the the undulating hills Thursday in the 95-mile Stage 4, from Lebanon to Rolla. The route will go through Fort Leonard Wood, where many a solider went through basic training, as a special salute to the Armed Forces on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The later part of the course, between Jerome and Rolla, will be on an old alignment of Route 66.

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