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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vande Velde keeps Tour of Missouri lead

Columbia’s Michael Barry won today's Stage 4 of the Tour of Missouri, but Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde kept the overall lead. Vande Velde is followed by Michael Rogers (Columbia) at 21 seconds back , Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) at 44 seconds, defending champ George Hincapie (Columbia)at 1:03 and Tom Danielson (Garmin)at 1:24.

The day's final King of the Mountain banner near mile 64 of the 95-mile course proved to be the turning point of the race.

Leading into that KOM, Toyota-United drilled the front, reeling back in the break and setting up its man Dominique Rollin, who is leading the KOM competition. Toward the top, Columbia’s Barry jumped clear, and Rollin was the only one who matched him. Rollin came around Barry to take maximum KOM points, but Barry kept the gas on over the top.

Heading over the climb, the field came apart, with only 18 riders making the front selection. The group quickly built up a lead over the peloton that ballooned to 18 minute, 37 seconds by the finish.

The field dropped by seven riders by the end of today's stage, from 113 to 106. John Devine and Craig Lewis, both of Columbia, and Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing) did not start the stage. Elliot Cervantes (Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalaiara) and Rock Racing riders Sterling Magnell and Justin Williams dropped out. Jonathan Sundt (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) finished after the time limit.

Friday's Stage 5 promises more fun hills for the field. The race begins in the wine country community of St. James and ends in Jefferson City, the state capital. Riders will have to climb a 300-meter hill to the finish line in Jefferson City.

Also, Blake Caldwell (Garmin-Chipotle), who blew a tire and crashed halfway into the 18-mile time trial in Branson, is recovering after suffering a concussion, a broken clavicle, cracked sternum, cracked iliac and lung contusions. He is in stable condition and will remain under observation until further notice.

Reports of an airlift were incorrect, and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Tour of Missouri officials said.

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