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Tour of Missouri - 2.1

USA, September 8-14, 2008

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Stage 1 - September 8: St. Joseph - Kansas City, 90 miles

Complete live report

By Sue George and Kirsten Robbins with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski

12:22 CDT    Thanks for joining us today. We'll be starting the opening stage of the 2008 Tour of Missouri in just a few minutes. Today, riders will cover 90 miles from St. Joseph to Kansas City.

12:28 CDT    Today will be a chilly one for our racers. It's 59 degrees (Fahrenheit) and overcast. It feels cold, too, especially since we're all used to warmer summer temperatures.

12:36 CDT    The crowds were on the small side here at the start. It rained heavy last night and the cooler, damper temperatures are likely keeping some fans away.

12:38 CDT    2 miles into neutral They started with a 3.5 mile neutral - now underway. Our first rider has a mechanical. It's Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia) getting a wheel change.

12:39 CDT    A lot of riders are back at the moment. They are probably shelling some of their layers while it's still neutral before the action gets going. The enthusiasm of one group of fans has not been dampened. The school kids are out in force as we pass the Mark Twain School. Hey, any excuse to get out of class will do, right? Especially a bike race!

12:46 CDT    0miles/90.0miles to go Our riders are done with their neutral and officially underway. We'll see who's feeling feisty today.

12:49 CDT    2miles/88miles to go The racers are riding along winding, rolly roads heading out of St. Joseph. The roads are still slightly wet although they are starting to dry off now. They will negotiate a few 180 degree turns, so it could precarious in the wet turns. There is a small flurry of minor attacks, but no one is getting away yet.

12:55 CDT    6miles/84miles to go Richard Faltus (Team Sparkasse), Carlos Oyarzun (Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara) and Andreas Schillinger (Team Sparkasse) have escaped off the front with a 10 second advantage.

12:57 CDT    8miles/82miles to go Our insightful driver today, Chris Gutowsky, pointed out to us that the move is rather strategic. Only one mile to go until the first KOM and there is just one more KOM to go today. Whoever ends up with the jersey today will get to keep it for a few days. There aren't more KOMs until stage four.

12:58 CDT    The trio has 15 seconds now. This first KOM looks to be at the top of one of the rolling hills. It'll feel like a short power climb to these guys rather than a mountain.

12:59 CDT    They are caught - the peloton is all together with 500m until the KOM.

13:01 CDT    9miles/81miles to go Dominique Rollin (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team) takes the first KOM. Behind him are Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis), Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Dirk Müller (Team Sparkasse) and Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team).

13:04 CDT    Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski talked to Rollin this morning. Though some were grumbling about the chilly weather, he said, "This weather is just like Tour of California. I wish it was raining more!"

13:10 CDT    14miles/76miles to go Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) and Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) have escaped for a 10 second advantage.

13:15 CDT    16miles/74miles to go Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) and Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) are at about 10 seconds. They aren't making any headway on getting away. Stirling Magnell (Rock Racing) made a brief attempt to catch up to them, but he was caught by the peloton, where Columbia is active at the front. The squad will be trying to keep it all together today to set things up for a final mass sprint.

13:17 CDT    The Tour of Missouri is a young race. It was first held in 2007, so this is its second year. American George Hincapie, who was then riding for the now defunct Discovery Channel Team, won the overall.

13:18 CDT    Hincapie is back this year to defend his title, but he is riding under the colors of Team Columbia.

13:20 CDT    The racers will have two intermediate sprints today en route to the finish. One is in Platte City, at mile 43.5, and the other is in Parkville, at mile 60.3. The second KOM isn't until later - at mile 75.

13:22 CDT    20miles/70miles to go Kohler and Zirbel have grown their advantage over the peloton to 50 seconds. Behind them, in no man's land is Jonathan Sundt (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), chasing on his own. Team Columbia continues to set the pace at the front of the peloton.

13:23 CDT    Zirbel told Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski this morning, "This is turning into a long season, but I'm motivated to do well." He is coming of a second place finish in the US Professional time trial championships in Greenville, South Carolina, at the end of August.

13:24 CDT    The time trial in this race, during stage three on Wednesday, is hillier than the one in Greenville.

13:33 CDT    Our two leaders are working hard and their efforts are paying off - their gap is up to 3.45.

13:37 CDT    27miles/63miles to go Our two leaders seem to have a strong rapport going - they are working well together. Behind them, Sundt is still on his own - he's at about one minute while the peloton, still led by Columbia, is at 5.45.

13:39 CDT    Despite being on his own, Sundt is showing some grit and determination. He's getting closer to the two leaders. If he can catch them and recover, they might appreciate the extra manpower.

13:40 CDT    Apparently, that is the case, as our leaders have backed it off a bit and are obviously waiting for Sundt to finish bridging up.

13:40 CDT    Sundt has made contact. The three are all together now. As a reminder, that's Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team), Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), and Jonathan Sundt (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) in case you are joining us just now.

13:56 CDT    33miles/57miles to go The peloton has slightly closed the gap on the three leaders - now it's down to 3.50. With Columbia still driving the chase, likely with the long term goal of setting up their sprinters at the end of the stage, the trio off the front will have their work cut out for them to stay off.

14:09 CDT    So why is Team Columbia working so hard in the peloton? The man they will want to set up for the final sprint is Mark Cavendish. Even though Cavendish is British, he is not at his home tour the Tour of Great Britain, also happening along with the Vuelta these days; instead, he is here at the Tour of Missouri looking for stage wins.

14:10 CDT    For domestic teams, it will be a chance for their ace sprinters to see how they stack up against one of the fastest stage finishers in the world. Cavendish won four stages, all in mass sprints, in the Tour de France earlier this summer.

14:15 CDT    39miles/51miles to go The break's gap is holding steady at 3.50. The racers are approaching the half-way point of today's stage.

14:16 CDT    41miles/49miles to go The gap is up a bit - now to 4.50 as the leaders see the 2km to go until the first of today's intermediate sprints. This one is in Platte City.

14:18 CDT    43.5miles/46.5miles to go Jonathan Sundt (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) takes top honors in the sprint. Behind him are Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) in second and Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) in third.

14:22 CDT    It's snack time as the leaders visit today's only feed zone.

14:25 CDT    While the men are out racing stage one, some of America's fastest pro women are contesting a criterium downtown in Kansas City. They are racing for about an hour this afternoon.

14:26 CDT    Now the peloton rolls through the feed zone. As a result, we may see the gap go up a bit - although its general trend lately has been downward. Now it's at 3.25.

14:33 CDT    It's starting to rain again now. The roads had mostly dried out, but this could make them wet and slippery again. The leaders' gap is down to 2.55.

14:36 CDT    The rain is picking up. The riders may be relieve that there are no wet treacherous mountain passes to descend today, but it's not like riding the rolling terrain will be a picnic in the rain.

14:39 CDT    The women have finished up their crit in Kansas City. Brooke Miller (Team Tibco) won. She is not only the newly crowned US Road Champion, but also the criterium champion.

14:40 CDT    Miller took her win in a final sprint. It was a good day for her team, for sure. In addition to the overall win, her team-mate Amber Rais won a large US$1000 gamblers prime a couple laps before the end.

14:42 CDT    Behind Miller were Jen McRae (Advil-ChapStick) in second and Erica Allar (Aaron's) in third. Stayed tuned to Cyclingnews for a full report coming later.

14:44 CDT    53miles/37miles to go The men are now racing along a major sort of highway - it must be Missouri 152. While we've been telling you about the ladies, the break away in the men's race has lost a bit more time. They're at 2.20.

14:46 CDT    Columbia has some help at last driving the peloton's chase. Garmin / Chipotle has joined in the effort. That's brought the gap down to 2.00 - maybe the rain becoming lighter is motivating them to chase?

14:49 CDT    57miles/33miles to go It's not too much longer until the next sprint in Parkville - a little over three miles to go. Despite the less than ideal weather, there are plenty of people out waiting and watching at the sprint line.

14:57 CDT    This is a good week to be a bike racing fan. There is no shortage of action happening. Unlike the Tour de France, when many road racers not competing get a little mid-season break, during the Vuelta a Espana, a bunch of other road races are also happening. Such as this one, for instance...and the Tour of Britain in the UK. Even mountain bikers have plenty to pay attention to - with the Swisspower Cup and National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series wrapping up in the last two days and the cross country and downhill World Cup ending in Schaldming, Austria, this coming weekend!

15:00 CDT    60miles/30miles to go Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) takes sprint #2 in Parkville. Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Jonathan Sundt (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) collect second and third place points.

15:04 CDT    The leaders are struggling a bit in a tough cross wind. It's not really raining any more, but it's kind of misty. They are giving it a good effort nonetheless, even as their gap continues to shrink. The peloton 1.35 behind.

15:09 CDT    66miles/24miles to go The driving winds may be contributing to a split forming in the peloton. If you can't find a good place to hang out of the wind, it can be tough to hold the wheel in front of you. Or perhaps it is the pace splitting the peloton? Chasing riders have managed to shrink the gap to the leaders to just one minute.

15:11 CDT    A group of 25 comprises the split off the front of the main peloton. They're chasing solidly as they roll through the outskirts of Kansas City.

15:13 CDT    68miles/22miles to go The group is morphing as riders try to make the cut. It's roughly 20 riders. Any large group that gets off the front at this point in the race could prove a decisive move in today's stage.

15:15 CDT    Our lead trio of three has been swallowed up by what is now the new lead group.

15:17 CDT    And it's all together again.

15:24 CDT    70miles/20miles to go A rider from the Tecos team has just attacked. The team from Mexico has been known for their aggressive racing style in the USA.

15:25 CDT    76miles/14miles to go Solo rider, Bernardo Colex has attacked with a 15 second gap. There is one KOM on the first lap. The rider is approching 1 km to the KOM.

15:27 CDT    Bernardo Colex from the Tecos team is holding a 15 second gap. Who ever wins the KOM jersey today gets to keep it for the next two stages.

15:27 CDT    Kelly Benefits is sending a rider off the front. But a Symmetrics rider has countered that move in a solo attempt to get the KOM

15:28 CDT    Results of the KOM are, Dominique Rollin, Will Routley and Frank Pipp

15:30 CDT    There is a nice descent coming off of the KOM where the peloton can pick up a lot of speed. This may make any solo efforts difficult to establish.

15:31 CDT    Symmetrics rider Will Routley has been caught on the descent after the KOM

15:31 CDT    Correction, Will Routley still has a 10 second gap over the peloton

15:32 CDT    It was not racing for the women's event. However, the rain continues to follow the men's field onto the finishing circuits.

15:33 CDT    The peloton is approaching two laps to go. Routley continues to hold his lead, increased to 15 seconds.

15:34 CDT    Routely is in a very aero dynamic time trial position. Columbia is setting the pace behind the solo rider, obviously working for their 4 time Tour de France stage winner -- Mark Cavendish.

15:35 CDT    The peloton is probably so focused on the finish line that they do not notice the cold temperatures and rain.

15:36 CDT    Routley, a rider from Canada, is driving his solo break away. Columbia is driving the peloton just hard enough to avoid being counter attacked. A very consistant effort on both parties.

15:37 CDT    The peloton will seeing one full circuit the next time they pass through the finsih line banner

15:38 CDT    It looks like Toyota-United's Dominique Rollin locked up the KOM jersey for the day. The KOM will resume after the stage three time trial.

15:40 CDT    Team Columbia has used a fraction of their horse power to bring back the solo Canadian rider, Will Routley. They will without a doubt want to use the rest of their strength in a lead out for Cavendish.

15:41 CDT    Other team's looking for a sprint victory will be last year's stage 1 winner from Toyota-United Ivan Dominguez. But there are a handful of other hungry sprinters looking to win here and start stage 2 in the yellow leader's jersey

15:42 CDT    It looks like Will Routley has yet again opened up his gap on the peloton. The gap was considerably reduced on the back side of the circuit but he has re-opened that advantage

15:42 CDT    Routley is at 1 km to go

15:43 CDT    Rider Kevin LaCombe is the last rider on course, lost a lot of time today

15:43 CDT    Routley looks to be holding onto a 10 second lead with in the last kilometre

15:43 CDT    The field is setting up behind him

15:44 CDT    Routely has been caught at the bottom of the down hill

15:44 CDT    Liquigas is on the front driving the pace to the line

15:45 CDT    The 1 km to go banner has just fallen onto the peloton as they passed by.

15:45 CDT    The wind is blowing strong but the riders were able to pass by the banner and continue their sprint to the finish

15:46 CDT    The feild has passed the 1 km to go. Once they pass through the finish line they will see one lap to go.

15:47 CDT    The field is curb to curb with Columbia on the front. Garmin-Chipotle is behind them along with other teams with fast sprinters

15:47 CDT    Columbia continues to lead the peloton through the last lap. Colavita-Sutter Home has lined up their train behind

15:49 CDT    Liquigas has also moved their train along side the Columbia team. The Colavita-Sutter Home team is looking to bring in Alejandro Borrajo, recently back from the Beijing Olympics.

15:49 CDT    Rock Racing has three riders that have come off the back of the field

15:50 CDT    There have been a flurry of attacks over the KOM climb but Columbia is holding strong at the front and keeping the field intact.

15:51 CDT    The crowds are still out to cheer on the field despite the rain

15:51 CDT    Columbia continues to lead the way around the final circuit

15:52 CDT    They have made the turn around through the roundabout. The are passing the last Kevin LaCombe who has now been lapped. It is possible that he had a mechanical

15:53 CDT    The peloton has gone through the 2 mile mark

15:53 CDT    Columbia is picking up the pace

15:54 CDT    They are approaching the down hill with 1 k to go

15:55 CDT    The field is flying down the descent with Columbia controlling the front.

15:55 CDT    No riders have attacked the Columbia train. They are setting a very fast speed

15:55 CDT    They are on the flat coming into the finish line. The rain is pouring now

15:56 CDT    Every one safe, Symmetrics on the front. Rollin pulls up front

15:56 CDT    Rollin pulls off the front and Cavendish takes the lead

15:56 CDT    There has been a crash, Karl Menzies went down

15:57 CDT    Tyler Farrar looks to have taken the field sprint ahead of Mark Cavendish

15:57 CDT    Nope, Mark Cavendish looks to have taken the stage 1 victory ahead of Tyler Farrar in a very dicey field sprint.

16:00 CDT    It looks like all the riders involved in the crash have gotten up and are rolling to the finsih line. They will most likely benefit from the 1-km rule, set in place by the UCI, and keep the same time as the rest of the peloton going into tomorrow's stage 2

16:01 CDT    The unofficial results are Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Chipotle)in second and Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) in third.

16:03 CDT    Please join us tomorrow for the live coverage of stage 2. The peloton will start in Clinton and end 201 kilometres later in Spring Field.

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