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Friday, September 12, 2008

Stage 6: How about some more wine?

Part of the rationale for the state of Missouri to pour money into the Tour of Missouri is to boost tourism in the state, so it makes sense that Saturday's Stage 6, which starts in Hermann and ends in St. Charles, goes through the heart of Missouri's wine country. I'm posting this now so you have a few hours to make your last-minute plans.

Last year, the Saturday stage of the race began in Jefferson City. This year, tour organizers took away the stretch between Jefferson City and Hermann. Hermann is the home of the Stone Hill Winery, one of the best-known Missouri wineries. Missouri is known for its dry, red Norton wines, its German-style white wines and its Port wines, and Stone Hill is no exception.

The Tour of Missouri is expected start in Hermann at 12:30 p.m. with a neutral start through town, then they'll turn east on Highway 100, where they will pass several more wineries as racing begins in earnest. Sprinters points will be awarded in New Haven and Washington.

The route crosses the Route 47 bridge at Washington, and the cyclists will turn east on Highway 94 and pass the Blumenhof Winery. They'll turn right on Emke Road, then turn left on Augusta Bottom Road, paralleling the Katy Trail. The first set of KOM points will be awarded near the Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta. The winery also is offering some packages so you can enjoy the race race for the winery's VIP area. Below is the profile for the first KOM:

The route traverses through Augusta back to Highway 94. After about a mile on that highway, the route turns left onto Schluersburg Road. That's when the racers will face one of the two stiffest climbs of the day, the climb up the Schluersburg Road hill for the second KOM points.

If you want to see a bit of suffering, Schluersburg Road is your place. Last year, several hundred fans lined the road to watch the racers plod their way up the hill, and the hill is one of the best places to get a glimpse of the race. You also should have time, if you're traveling by car, to get to the finish line in St. Charles.

Here's what the riders will be facing on that 0.7-mile climb with about 350 feet of vertical gain:

The route has a third KOM zone, on Old Colony Road near Defiance. The cyclists will be going on a flat stretch of Highway 94 through Defiance, then the road veers away from the Missouri River valley, and the climbing begins. They turn left onto Highway F, then they'll turn right onto Old Colony to finish the climbing to the KOM banner. Here's a profile of the stretch between Defiance and the KOM banner:

This year's route then continues into the city of O'Fallon, then north into the Mississippi River valley. The flat route in the valley should give the non-climbers a chance to recover from the the big climbs, but they have one more hill in the northern part of St. Charles before the finish line.

The route ends in St. Charles, Missouri's first state capital, in the city's historic district at Riverside Drive and First Capitol Drive. There are plenty of shops in the historic district, not to mention the Ameristar Casino to the south of the finish. For more details about the Stage 6 route see the map and the log at the Tour of Missouri site.

The bad news for Saturday is that the Weather Channel is forecasting a 40 percent chance of thundershowers at the start of Saturday's stage, increasing to 70 percent by 4 p.m., so come prepared. Wet conditions could make for a rather interesting finish.

Nevertheless, the state of Missouri is hoping you'll come visit -- and spend some money!

Also Saturday, people will get a chance to ride the 13.5-mile circuit Tour of Missouri racers will be doing Sunday in the finale in St. Louis. Trailnet is putting on a Racecourse Ramble at the Soldiers' Memorial, 1315 Chestnut St. in St. Louis. The ride begins at 8:30 a.m. and costs $8 for Trailnet members, $12 for non-members and $3 for children under 13.

After the bicycle ride, you enjoy the Family Fun Festival at Soldier’s Memorial, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There will be activities, including a bike safety program at 10:00, 11:00 and noon, food and beverages. Later in the evening, around 7:30 p.m., the film “American Flyer,” which stars Kevin Costner and was partly filmed in St. Louis, will be shown at the south end of Union Station. There will be food, beverages and prizes during the movie.


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