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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Tour of Missouri host cities named

Tour of Missouri organizers today announced the host cities for the 2009 race, and there are some dramatic changes.

The most notable changes are the routing of the even from east to west rather than west to east and the exclusion of the Springfield-Branson area from this year's route. The communities of St. Charles and Hermann also aren't on this year's route.

In the first two years of the Tour of Missouri, the race began in the western part of the state -- Kansas City in 2007 and St. Joseph in 2008 -- and ended in St. Louis. This year's ride begins on Labor Day (Sept. 7) with a circuit race in St. Louis and ends Sept. 13 with a circuit race in Kansas City. Here's a full list of the route:
  • Stage 1: Circuit race in St. Louis, Sept. 7.
  • Stage 2: Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau, Sept. 8
  • Stage 3: Farmington to Rolla, Sept. 9
  • Stage 4: St. James to Jefferson City, Sept. 10
  • Stage 5: Time trial in Sedalia, Sept. 11
  • Stage 6: Chillicothe to St. Joseph, Sept. 12
  • Stage 7: Circuit race in Kansas City, Sept. 13
"In keeping with tradition, we will change the course from year to year to keep it fresh," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of event organizers Medalist Sports of the Tour of Missouri Web site. "There will be new drama on the race route and we expect a few more hills. Overall, we have some great and very excited host cities."

Based upon my knowledge of Missouri geography, the Farmington-Rolla stage should be the hilliest of the race, while the Ste. Genevieve-Cape Girardeau, St. James-Jefferson City and the Chillicothe-St. Joseph stages will provide plenty of the undulating rolling hills the Tour of Missouri is known for.

"I like what they've done," said 2008 Tour of Missouri champion Christian Vande Velde, an Illinois native who also finished fourth overall at last year's Tour de France. "It's a totally different race course and it looks like they've added some challenging terrain. Last year's race was very fast and tougher than it looked on paper. I look forward to coming back"

With the Stage 2 start in Ste. Genevieve, the Tour of Missouri will be going through one of Missouri's most historic towns. Ste. Genevieve has the greatest concentration of French Colonial buildings in the United States, some dating as far back as the 1770s. Shown at left is the The Bolduc-LeMeilleur House, which was built in 1820.

The Tour of Missouri has formed a partnership with the Gateway Cup in St. Louis, the largest amateur cycling event for road cycling in the country. The Gateway Cup will feature four days of racing by more than 1,100 competitive amateur cyclists over the Labor Day weekend. These four days of racing will lead into Stage 1 pf Tour of Missouri .

Gateway Cup organizers say the final day of racing (Labor Day) in that event will use the same start-finish line as the Stage 1 of the Tour of Missouri, St. Louis' new City Garden in the Gateway Mall in downtown St. Louis. In recent years, the Labor Day race had been run in the University City Loop. Back in the 1990s, the final race was held in the Signal Hill neighborhood near Belleville, Ill.

On Labor Day, the Gateway Cup races will begin at 7 a.m., the Tour of Missouri Women's Criterium will begin at 11:45 a.m., and Stage One of the Tour of Missouri will begin at 2 p.m.

Tour of Missouri Women's Criterium races also will take place Sept. 4-6 during the Tour de Lafatette, the Downtown St. Louis Criterium and the Giro Della Montagna.

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