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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lance Armstrong: Who needs him?

All right, I'll admit it would be nice if Lance Armstrong would be riding in this year's Tour of Missouri. I'll go as far and say the event's crowds would be substantially bigger if Armstrong was aboard.

Back in March or April, when I was distributing fliers for the Tour de Stooges to St. Louis-area bicycle shops, I had the chance to chat with Mike Weiss, the owner of the Big Shark bike shop in St. Louis and an organizer of the Tour of Missouri. At the time, he told me that while it would be a bonus if Armstrong was there, the goal was to have a great event without him.

And the fact of the matter is that the Tour of Missouri, which runs from Labor Day through Sept. 13, will be a great event without him.

The prestige of the event went up a notch or two on Friday when Tour of Missouri organizers announced that Levi Leipheimer will be racing for Astana.

"I'm still recovering from my broken wrist suffered in the Tour de France, but anytime I have the opportunity to line up for a race of this caliber in my own country, I'm going to make my best effort to participate," said Leipheimer, who was positioned in the top five overall in the Tour de France when he crashed. "Since I haven't raced in over a month, it's hard to give an assessment of my form, but I know our entire team is very excited and motivated for this race."

Leipheimer will be joined by former junior world champion Janez Brajkovic of Slovenia, Steve Morabito, Andrey Zeits, Sergey Renev; plus team-winning Tour de France performers and strongmen Gregory Rast, the 2007 Tour of Luxembourg winner and stage winner (team time trial) of this year's Tour de France, Dmitri Muravyev, a three-time Kazakhstan National Champion in the time trial and Yaroslav Popovych, who is a podium finisher at the Tour of Italy and former stage winner of the Tour de France and America's Tour de Georgia.

Here's some other reasons to make the trip to Missouri to see the race:
  • Defending champion Christian Vande Velde, an Illinois native who finished eighth at this year's Tour de France.
  • David Zabriskie, a four-time U.S. time trial champion.
  • George Hincapie, the winner of the 2007 Tour of Missouri.
  • Jens Voigt, a multiple Tour de France stage winner and two-time Tour of Germany champion.
  • Mark Cavendish, a 10-time Tour de France stage winner who is considered the world's best sprinter.
  • Thor Hushvold, the sprint jersey winner of this year's Tour de France.
I know I'm looking forward to seeing parts of the first three stages of the race, the Sept. 7 Stage 1 circuit race in St. Louis, the Sept. 8 Stage 2 from Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau and the Sept. 9 Stage 3 from Farmington to Rolla. Stage 3 should be the must-see stage as the cyclists take on some of the most difficult terrain the Midwest has to offer.

Hope to see you in the Show-Me State!


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Roger 1 comments links to this post 1:44 AM

Mark Cavendish photo!

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