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Tour of Missouri - 2.1

USA, September 11-16, 2007

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Stage 4 - September 14: Lebanon - Columbia, 214 km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Steve Medcroft, Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins

10:31 CDT   
Good morning and welcome to the Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour of Missouri. The riders are just about to leave the start. They will ride a 1.2-mile neutral section before the racing begins. There are 106 starters. According to our reporter on the ground only one Navigators Insurance team member signed in this morning and he is reported to not be starting the stage so the Tour will continue one team down.

10:36 CDT   
And they are away for the start of stage 4.

The race covers 214 kilometers today. There is one KOM at about 48 and two sprints later in the stage. The riders woke to cooler weather than tey had been used to so far in the Tour of Missouri; temperatures in the sixties (F), overcast skies and what we believe will be mostly a headwind of 10 to 20 miles per hour.

10:38 CDT   
The crowds have been good through the towns and communities the race has passed. It seems like every school along the route has been encouraged by the passing of the race to shut down classes for a few moments and let the kids watch the peloton pass.

10:38 CDT   
Jesus Zarate of team Tecos has attacked immediately after the neutral zone and has a ten-second gap.

10:43 CDT   
Here's the GC picture after yesterday's time trial:

1 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel @ 8.22.34
2 William Frishkorn (USA) Team Slipstream p/b Chipotle @ 1.40
3 David Canada Gracia (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir @ 2.22
4 Dominique Rollin (Can) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada @ 2.23
5 Michael Friedman (USA) Team Slipstream p/b Chipotle @ 2.48
6 Frank Pipp (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis @ 2.57
7 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team @ 3.04
8 Andrew Randell (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team @ 3.48
9 Stefan Parinussa (Ger) Team Sparkasse @ 4.20
10 Matt Rice (Aus) Jelly Belly Cycling Team @ 6.21

10:46 CDT   
This clearly puts pressure on Discovery Channel to play the role of defender in this long stage. Teams with no GC ambition, teams looking for stage wins, KO or points, can afford to be aggressive knowing that Discovery has the responsibility to chase them. Slipstream, with the second and fifth-placed GC riders, has the opportunity to be aggressive and try to wear Discovery down today. It should be a very active race until a break develops that suits Discovery and is acceptable to the rest of the peloton.

10:48 CDT    8km/206km to go
The race is all together. After the Tecos rider was re-absorbed, a couple of other riders took a punt but nothing has stuck.

10:50 CDT   
I have a correction already. Navigator's Insurance is absolutely in the race; only one their riders who signed in this morning decided not to race. Glad we had this one wrong as they are a strong team who know how to play the tactics of stage racing well and will be key in this being an exciting stage.

10:53 CDT    11km/203km to go
In fact, Navigator's Insurance rider Glenn Chadwick is off the front by ten seconds now. Which is not surprising since when we talked to him before the race he said the conditions today (cooler weather and a long, flat stage) were a lot like his home training grounds in Belgium.

10:55 CDT   
So knowing the GC picture, the profile of the course and the teams involved, what kind of stage do you hope to see today? Would you like to see a breakaway succeed? A super-hard race that Discovery manages and which ends up in a sprint? A break and catch? A late-in-the-day solo break? Email us at commetator@cyclingnews.com.

10:58 CDT    15km/199km to go
Davide Frattini (Colvavita) bridged out of the peloton and caught Chadwick. The two briefly had a 25 second advantage but too many teams want riders in the break today so the peloton has been pulled to the break and it has been caught.

11:11 CDT    24km/190km to go
The peloton is still all together thanks to a super-high pace. The Navigators and BMC teams have been very active; both trying to get riders into a Break. And for a short time, a small group developed but it was quickly gobbled back up bu the peloton.

The front of the race is all single file due to the speed. The riders are on long, rolling stretches of narrow, two lane farm roads at the moment.

11:16 CDT    27km/187km to go
Kodakgallery/Sierra Nevada, BMC, Slipstream and navigators riders are all taking shots off the front but still nothing is sticking.

Meanwhile, Ian McKissock (BMC) is having mechanical problems. This is not the kind of pace where you want to fall of the back with a flat!

11:19 CDT   
Symmetrics and DFL/Cyclingnews riders are on the front now. half the teams in the race are taking shots.

11:19 CDT   
Ten riders have a small gap.

11:20 CDT   
And the string on the yo-yo catches them and they're caught.

11:20 CDT    33km/181km to go
The KOM starts at kilometer 45 today. The KOM line is at 47.6.

11:23 CDT   
Andy in Kansas City (not sure if it's the Kansas or Missouri version and at the risk of offending, we will not speculate) has this thought about today's action: "I'd like to see the teams race aggressively early, so that someone from Slipstream has a remote chance to get out in a late break. If George is going to win, i want the disco boys to earn it."

11:25 CDT   
Seth Smith in Columbia thinks that with the winds, the distance and the speeds so far, we could see a split peloton:

"This stage, I think, could tear up the field. It is so long for this time of year, and some of the toughest little climbs are between the towns of Guthrie and Columbia near the end. The Guthrie climbs are a real challenge for us folks training and racing here in Columbia--there should be a lot of people out there watching the race. There are two climbs--the hardest is coined "Papa Guthrie" and is a 39-23 climb for even the best Cat 1 and 2 riders here in Columbia. Think Koppenberg type steepness and length. I'll be out there!

"I think the finish will probably see a 5-10 man breakaway, and then a larger peleton (probably 50-70 riders) and then groups shelled off the back. Its going to be a very hard day. It's anybody's race, really--Discovery certainly has the upper hand. This course really favors riders who might do well in the Tour of Flanders, etc. Hincapie could do extremely well today."

11:26 CDT   
A DFL/Cyclingnews rider is off the front. But just barely.

11:30 CDT    39km/175km to go
An interseting note; there is a protest under review by officials over yesterday's final KOM placements. The two rider time under review are both on Health Net; Nathan O'Neill placed higher than Jeff Louder in the KOM yesterday but Louder holds the KOM jersey so it is in the team's interest for Louder to place higher and score more points. The team must feel like Louder did the climb faster in order to protest placements between it's own two riders.

Slipstream on the front of the peloton at the moment. The race is still all together.

11:32 CDT   
Andy is in Kansas City, Missouri by the way. Thanks for the clarification Andy.

11:35 CDT   
The peloton is five kilometers from the KOM. None of the numerous attacks have had any effect. It could the headwind that's slowing down progress at the front. The headwind is also causing a lower-than-expected average speed considering the amount of action we've see off the front; 22 miles per hour average so far.

11:49 CDT   
Here are the results of the KOM:

1 Jeff Louder (Health Net)
2 a Navigator's rider
3 Karl Menzies (Health Net)
4 Bernado Colex (Tecos)
5 RyderHesjedal (Health Net)

It wasn't much of a mountain though; more of a hill. Health Net seems keen to protect Jeff Louder's lead in the KOM by taking as many points away from Louder's competition as possible. Word has just come down that the protest of yesterday's KOM positions has been settled and their will be no change in yesterday's KOM results after all.

Immediately after the KOM, a group of about seven riders counter attacked. It ws shortly whittled down to three riders. Then one as Ryder Hesjedal has a small gap.

11:50 CDT    56km/158km to go
Hesjedal is a powerful tempo rider but it seems this peloton is finicky about who they will let go.

11:50 CDT   
Hesjedal has 45 seconds over a chasing group of six riders (who, in turn, have ten seconds over the peloton).

11:54 CDT   
Speaking to Hesjedal's power; he started his cycling career as a mountain biker and was dominant in the US NORBA series races. At a key national-level event in Durango, Colorado, we remember standing at the top of a 1,500-foot climb waiting for the race to pass us by on it's first lap of three. This was super-steep climb up a ski slope. Hesjedal came through alone a full three minutes ahead of the rest of the race. He was out of the saddle and climbing in his big chainring! Powerful.

11:55 CDT    60km/154km to go
Hesjedal continues to hold onto a lead - but only 27 seconds now. The chase has been absorbed by the peloton.

11:56 CDT   
We have clarification on who the Navigator's rider was who took second in the KOM; it was Darren Lill.

12:00 CDT   
Hesjedal is still away. After a six-year MTB career mostly with Gary Fisher-sponsored teams, he has bumped around the pro peloton a little bit; the Canadian rode for Phonak in 2006, Discovery/U.S.Postal Service in 2005 and 2004 and the Rabobank GSIII squad in 2002-03.

12:01 CDT   
Hesjedal is caught on what appear to be larger and longer climbs than the KOM.

12:10 CDT   
It's unbelievable that after 90 minutes of racing so far, no matter how many times they try, no team can get a break off the front of this race. Every time a small group forms, they are chased down by teams who want to be away themselves. As we speak, a small group containing riders from Slipstream, DFL/Cyclingnews.com, BMC, Symmetrics, Navigators and others has slipped away. But they too are absorbed.

12:10 CDT   
And in all this action, what is the one team having to do none of it so far? Discovery Channel. Looks like today will be a rest for them after all.

12:12 CDT    70km/144km to go
Two riders are off the font now.

12:13 CDT   
And they are brought back.

12:17 CDT   
There is a small group dangling off the front. It contains Cameron Evans (Symmetrics), Francisco Javier Matamoros (Tecos), Darren Lil (Navigators), Tim Duggan (Slipstream), Jackson Stewart (BMC), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly).

12:20 CDT   
That's actually a pretty good mix. The GC teams (Discovery and Kodakgallery/Sierra Nevada - Slipstream has a rider in but not their GC contenders) may let it stand for a while. But there are no Toyota-United, Tecos, Health Net or DFL/Cyclingnews riders so we may just as easily see a chase mount.

12:22 CDT   
Jesse Anthony (Kodakgallery/Sierra Nevada and Tim Johnson (Health Net) have chased into the break so now there are eight riders at 15 seconds off the front.

Where is Toyota-United and DFL/Cyclingnews?

12:34 CDT    86km/128km to go
The chase has been caught and a counter atacck has pulled a new break away. The riders are Cameron Jennings (DFL/Cyclingnews), Jeff Louder (Health Net), Hector Hugo Rangel (Tecos), a Colavita rider, Tim Duggan (Slipstream), Steven Cozza (Slipstream), Darren Lil (Navigators), Justin England (Toyota-United) and Jacob Rosenbarger (BMC).

They have 20 seconds on the field as they enter the first feed zone of the day.

12:35 CDT   
Two riders are chasing to get onto the break. One of them is Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net).

12:41 CDT   
The chase has caught onto the breakaway and the gap is at 1:05.

12:44 CDT   
Finally, we have a break that looks like it may stick. The main peloton is through the feedzone and everyone is a little more concerned with fueling and hydrating after the hard effort of the day so far.

12:45 CDT   
The break is big enough that the race officials are moving team cars for riders in the break into the gap. That's a good indication that this break may have the legs to stay clear with about 120 kilometers of racing left in the stage.

12:52 CDT   
Many of the riders in the break are getting watter bottles and food from the team cars since they had just broken free of the main group as they passed through the feed zone and many of them missed picking up food.

The gap is up to 1:50 now.

12:54 CDT   
If you are in a place where you can watch streaming video, we have just brought up the race live at http://video.cyclingnews.com/2007/sep07/missouri/missouri07.php. What you'll hear on the audio portion of the video coverage right now is the race radio.

13:00 CDT   
The voice of the Tour of Missouri's race radio is Lorinn Rhodes. You will only hear her voice because all radio communications to the caravan as a whole are routed through Lorinn. She receives communications from the teams, other officials and makes announcements to the caravan. She repeats some instructions in French for the foreign teams. Mark Zalewski, Cyclingnews' North American Editor, did a really nice profile of Lorinn and the job she does after the 2007 Tour de Georgia. You can read that article here.

13:06 CDT   
The gap is climbing steadily; at 2:30 now. The highest placed GC riders in the breakaway are Timmy Duggan (17th) and Darren Lil (18th). They are 14:54 and 15:02 behind Hincapie on GC respectively.

13:10 CDT    111km/103km to go
The riders in the break are working well together, taking even pulls and keeping the pace high.

13:13 CDT   
The Colavita rider in the break is 24 year old Daniel Vaillancourt; he was not on our official start list so we had trouble identifying him at first. Dan lives in Maine.

From his bio: Dan graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Science. His cycling career dates back to his Little League days when he used time trials to race home after practice each week. Dan focused on mountain biking for many years and through progression needed a road bike for training. He had successful seasons with Louis Garneau and CCB/Volkswagon, where he was recognized for his third place finish in the 2006 US Elite Road National Championships after a solo attempt. When Dan is not racing he can be found skiing, hiking and traveling. He also enjoys ceramics and landscaping.

In 2006, Dan was second in stage 2 of the 2006 Vuelta De Bisbee, first in the Tour del Paso Road Race and third in the US Elite National Road Race.

13:13 CDT   
The average speed of the break is 26 miles per hour and they have the gap up to 3:20.

13:14 CDT   
Back in the main field, Discovery Channel is setting the pace.

13:24 CDT    122km/92km to go
Discovery Channel's efforts at the front of the main field have served to hold the break at 3:20.

13:28 CDT    123km/91km to go
With a little under 100 kilometers left in the stage, the gap is relatively stable at 3:10.

13:35 CDT   
We have had a few readers ask us for a follow up to the UCI communique at the Tour of Missouri re-iterating the rule that time trial bars be setup so riders forearms are parallel to the ground. Cyclingnews' reporter Kirsten Robbins met with Liepheimer (who spent time in a wind tunnel sculpting a riding position with his forearms at an angle to the ground - like a ski-racer's tuck) for his comments. I don't want to spoil Kirsten's story because it will likely run later today on Cyclingnews but here is a comment from Levi she is including:

“It is very frustrating because they can’t give a real reason why the riders arms can’t be bent up as opposed to being parallel to the ground. I think they said that it creates an added support on the elbow. But I think that they have never been on a time trial bike before because it doesn’t change how much weight you have on your elbow.”

13:37 CDT   
The gap had started to come down slightly but Discovery does not need to bring this break back at such an early stage and encourage more energy-sapping attacks so they have settled and let the break grow to 3:55.

13:43 CDT   
The breakaway is 10 kilometers from the first sprint of the day. We are likely to see and active contest as there is a one-place, $1,500 prize for the first rider across the line.

13:46 CDT   
Who's your pick for a sprinter out of this breakaway (commentator@cyclingnews.com)?

13:53 CDT   
The sprint is only 7 kilometers up the road; in Jefferson City, Missouri. Jefferson City is the Capitol of Missouri.

13:55 CDT   
Jefferson City will also host the start of Stage 5; a 204 kilometer road race to St. Charles.

13:56 CDT   
With only four kilometers to the sprint, the gap is extended to 4:35.

13:57 CDT   
Reader Randy McCaskill thinks Health Net Ryder Hesjedal will get a lead-out from Jeff Louder for the sprint.

13:58 CDT   
A couple of readers like the Slipstream duo and have Duggan for the sprint.

13:58 CDT   
Don't rule our Cameron Jennings (DFL/Cyclingnews.com). He has a hell of a punch.

13:59 CDT   
The leaders are 1 kilometer out. This is a strong group with no clear sprinter so the $1,500 is truly up from grabs.

14:00 CDT   
Steven Cozza (Slipstream) and Rangel from Tecos have attacked.

14:00 CDT   
Jeff Louder takes the sprint. And the premium.

14:01 CDT   
Followed by Steven Cozza and Hector Hugo Rangel.

14:02 CDT   
Louder had the sprint by 25 meters so it seems he is just a King of the Mountains eh?

14:02 CDT    148km/66km to go
Only about half of the breakaway contested the sprint. Now that it is over, the leaders are back together.

14:10 CDT   
The leaders are 7 kilometers from the second sprint.

14:13 CDT    152km/62km to go
The gap is a stable 4:40. We still have more than an hour of racing to go. Some time shortly after this second sprint we should get an indication of Discovery Channel's intentions for this stage. It could be that with such a big lead in GC over anyone in the break (Steven Cozza at 14:54 the closest), the will not lift their pace to bring the break back. With most of the higher-end teams represented, will anyone want to bring it back?

14:17 CDT   
The second sprint of the day is in front of North Elementary School in Hope Summit, Missouri. All the kids from the school are out front and super excited to see a professional bike race pass by. They have chalked Jelly Belly in the road at the sprint line. No doubt, they have heard that the Jelly Belly team car will throw bags of jelly beans to the fans along the route.

14:18 CDT   
Darren Lil won the sprint.

14:18 CDT   
It was also contested by Cameron Jennings.

14:18 CDT   
The rest of the break seem content to keep working together and not stress about the sprint.

14:22 CDT   
The field is 1 kilometer from the sprint line. The gap is still 4:20.

14:22 CDT   
Correction on that gap - it's actually up to 4:45.

14:26 CDT    161km/53km to go
The riders in the break are still working together, sharing the workload and keeping their gap open. Back in the main group, Toyota-United has a rider sharing some of the pacemaking. Does this mean that teams with stronger sprinters are hedging their bet that the break will stay away?

14:29 CDT   
Sanier-Duval Prodir has come to the front of the peloton to share the work with Discovery as well.

14:31 CDT   
The gap is dropping (4:00) now that there are other teams willing to work in the peloton to bring it back. Do you think there will be a catch? At what kilometer mark (commentator@cyclingnews.com)?

14:36 CDT   
The gap is under four minutes (3:30) now as the leaders work into a headwind.

14:55 CDT    181km/33km to go
The situation on the road is in stalemate at the moment. Saunier-Duval Prodir, Discovery Channel, Kodakgallery/Sierra Nevada and Toyota-United have riders in the front of the peloton working to bring the break back. But the break us matching their effort and the gap is hovering just over three minutes.

There have been a number of votes for where the break will be caught. One train of thought is that the break would come with about 15 kilometers to go. That gives riders a lot of room to launch a counter attack to try and grab victory. Most of the votes are for a catch closer to the finish - three to one kilometers. This would make it a sprinter's stage.

14:57 CDT   
Reader Mark Gorman would like to see the race's star put on a show for us. "I think there will be a catch with 2 to go and big George will launch an attack." If Hincapie did win the sprint after the peloton catches the break, it would be reminiscent of Lance Armstrong taking the sprint in stage 3 of the 2004 Tour de Georgia (who also had no tactical necessity to sprint).

15:03 CDT   
Kodakgallery/Sierra Nevada, who missed the break, is chasing and the break s down to 2:10 so a catch is likely.

15:08 CDT    189km/25km to go
The ledaers just passed the 25 kilometers to go banner. their gap has eroded to only 1:30.

15:17 CDT    194km/20km to go
The gap is down again, but only by 15 seconds. At 1:15 now.

15:21 CDT   
The gap continues to crumble. At 55 seconds now. The leaders are continuing to rotate in a double paceline. the riders who come to the front have their heads down in as aerodynamic a tuck you can have on a road bike.

15:22 CDT   
The race is on a long stretch of open road. The peloton can see the break.

15:23 CDT   
According to our race reporter, the finish line crowd is predimonantly college students; According to Wikipedia, Columbia is home to the "University of Missouri, the state's flagship campus, and location of the University of Missouri System headquarters. The city is also home to Stephens College and Columbia College."

15:24 CDT   
Columbia is a large community. Wikipedia goes on to say that it "is the fifth largest city in Missouri and the largest city in central Missouri. As of 2007 the city had a population of 96,700[4] and the surrounding Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 153,283."

15:24 CDT   
The gap is down to 35 seconds.

15:26 CDT   
Riders are attacking out of the break trying to stay clear.

15:27 CDT   
Darrin Lil and Jeff Louder are ahead of the break by maybe five seconds.

15:27 CDT   
The peloton is still coming from behind.

15:29 CDT   
Louder and Lil are staying clear right now. Their gap is at ten seconds. There are 30 seconds to the main field.

15:31 CDT   
The break is stuck in the gap between Louder and Lil and the charging peloton. Stubbornly, they are keeping up their pace and staying clear.

15:32 CDT   
The main field has caught the remnants of the original break. Will they sit up and let Lil and Louder go away or keep chasing to setup a field sprint?

15:33 CDT   
Dan Schmatz, the BMC sprinter who collided with an armadillo in stage two is at the finish line and announcing the race.

15:34 CDT   
Louder and Lil are sitting up and letting the peloton catch them.

15:37 CDT    209km/5km to go
And with the catch, the pace in the peloton becomes reasonable again.

The field just passed the five kilometers to go so the riders will just have time to catch their breaths before the teams start lining up their lead-out trains for the finish. Unless someone wants to take the opportunity to break away.

15:37 CDT   
Slipstream are moving up to the front of the peloton. There is 3 kilometers to go.

15:38 CDT   
Steve Cozza (Slipstream) is at the front of the peloton, impressive since he just spent 100 kilometers in the break!

15:40 CDT   
Popyvich (Discovery Channel) attacked but was brought back.

15:40 CDT    211.5km/2.5km to go
There is a short climb with just about two kilometers to go.

15:40 CDT   
Health Net has a rider attacking off the front.

15:41 CDT    212.5km/1.5km to go
Tecos is in front now.

15:41 CDT    213km/1km to go
One k to go.

15:41 CDT   
It's still strung out at the front of the race. Hincapie is sitting fourth wheel.

15:42 CDT   
Svein Tuft (Summetrics) attacks.

15:42 CDT   
He has a gap with 500 meters to go.

15:43 CDT   
But he is consumed by the pack.

15:43 CDT   
Luciano Pagliarini wins it!

15:44 CDT   
The Saunier-Duval Prodir rider takes the win in front of a disorganized, argy-bargy sprint.

15:47 CDT   
The work that Saunier-Duval Prodir did to help bring the break back paid off as their star sprinter takes a stage win for the team.

Ivan Dominguez brings a podium to an injury-plagued Toyota-United team with a third-place finish. Andrew Pinfold of Symmetrics pulled out second place.

15:48 CDT   
There will be no change in GC.

And with that, we end our coverage of stage 4 of the inaugural Tour of Missouri. Thanks for tuning in. Check back this evening for a complete race report, photos and full results on Cyclingnews.com. And come back tomorrow at 11:30am central (US) for complete coverage of stage 5.

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