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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Tour of Missouri: Who to watch

UPDATED: Even without Lance Armstrong, there are still plenty of reasons for serious and casual bicycle racing fans to watch the Tour of Missouri. I've mentioned some of the big names over the past few months, but here's a recap of some of the top riders who will be starting the race Monday in St. Louis:
  • Levi Leipheimer: The Astana rider, soon to be a teammate of Armstrong's on his new Team RadioShack, has won the Amgen Tour of California three straight times. He was in fifth place in this year's Tour de France before breaking a wrist during Stage 12. The wrist has recovered enough that he's able to compete in Missouri.
  • George Hincapie: Best known for being Armstrong's longtime lieutenant in the Tour de France, the Team Columbia rider comes into the Tour of Missouri fresh off a U.S. Professional Championships title in the road race. Hincapie won the inaugural Tour of Missouri in 2007.
  • Christian Vande Velde: A native of the Chicago suburbs, Vande Velde is the defending Tour of Missouri champion and finished eighth in this year's Tour de France. It will interesting to see how the rivalry that developed between Team Columbia and Vande Velde's Garmin-Slipstream team will play out on the hills of Missouri.
  • David Zabriskie: The Astana rider is fresh off a U.S. Professional Championships title in the individual time trial.
  • Michael Rogers: A three-time world champion, the Australian rider who rides for Team Columbia finished second to Vande Velde at last year's Tour of Missouri.
  • Jens Voigt: The German star is a two-time Tour of Germany champ and a multiple stage winner in the Tour de France.
  • Floyd Landis: I don't know how much of a factor the OUCH rider will be, but his presence should add some interest. He still is trying to reestablish himself after being stripped of his victory in the 2006 Tour de France.
  • Mark Cavendish: The Team Columbia rider gained a following in Missouri in three stage wins last year, and he won six stages of this year's Tour de France. I don't think Cavendish will be a factor for the general classification, especially after the exceptionally hilly Stage 3 from Farmington to Rolla, but don't be surprised if Cavendish wins Stage 1 in St. Louis.
  • Thor Hushvold: Hushvold was the green jersey winner in this year's Tour de France. Like Cavendish, I don't expect him to a factor in the general classification, but expect some exciting duels with Cavendish on the sprint-finish days.
  • Franco Pellizotti: The Liquigas-Cannondale rider was the King of the Mountains in this year's Tour de France. Although the hills in Missouri aren't as long as those in France, they are sizable and they are steep.
View the final rosters for the Tour of Missouri.


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