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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tour of Missouri: Don't forget the women!

Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, Christian Vande Velde and Thor Hushvold -- among others -- aren't the only elite cyclists who will be competing for Tour of Missouri glory.

The Tour of Missouri Women's Series will be run as part of the annual Gateway Cup series of bike races over four days in St. Louis. Here's the schedule of women's races:
  • Tour of Lafayette, 8:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 4): This is a 0.9-mile course around Lafayette Park.
  • St. Louis Hills, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 5): This is an 1.25-mile course around Francis Park in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.
  • Gira Della Montagna, 4:15 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 6): This is a 0.9-mile course in The Hill neighborhood, an enclave best known for its Italian restaurants.
  • Tour of Missouri Pro/Am, 11:45 a.m. Monday (Sept. 7): The 1-mile course shares the start-finish line with the Tour of Missouri at the new City Garden on Market Street and passes Busch Stadium, the home of the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals (In case you're wondering, the Cardinals playing in Milwaukee on Labor Day).
You can see detailed maps of the course at the Gateway Cup schedule page, as well as download a Word document with the schedule of Gateway Cup races.

Who will be there? Two-time U.S. national champion Brooke Miller, racing for Team Tibco, won the inaugural Tour of Missouri women’s race in 2008, and the Tour of Missouri site says she will return to defend her title.

Tour of Missouri organizers say Kelly Benjamin, a past stage winner and 2007 overall women’s champion, will be returning. Also expected are U.S. criterium champ Tina Pic and sprinter Laura Van Gilder.

In addition to Team Tibco, the Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, Team Type 1,
LipSmacker, Team ValueAct, Capital, Vanderkitten, Proman and the Webcor Builders teams are expected to compete in the Tour of Missouri Women's Series.

In addition to the racing, the women will participate in a soiree and team presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at SqWires Restuarant in the Lafayette neighborhood. Tickets are $35 and are available through the Big Shark bicycle shop. At 7 p.m. Sunday, a panel discussion about the future of women's cycling is planned at the Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown St. Louis. The event is free, but you need to contact coordinator Amy McMinn to get on the attendance list.

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