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Tour of Missouri - 2.1

USA, September 8-14, 2008

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Stage 2 - September 9: Clinton - Springfield, 126 miles

Complete live report

Live coverage by Laura Weislo with reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins in Missouri

11:00 CDT   
Welcome back to the Tour of Missouri live on Cyclingnews! The second stage is the longest of the race, but it is fairly flat. The riders won't have to battle with the cold, miserable weather they had on stage one, and it looks as if they won't have that massive headwind to deal with either.

11:06 CDT   
The riders have 2.4 miles of neutral before they hit the gas for this massive 126 mile stage. The domestic teams will be more attentive today than yesterday - Health Net's Tim Johnson described the chaos near the end of yesterday's stage to Mark Zalewski. He said the Columbia and Liquigas teams went so hard with 25km to go that they split the field and all the domestic squads got caught out. They had to chase full on for 5km before they could get back into the game, and it left a lot of guys hurting.

11:08 CDT   
There are plenty of fans lining the roads here in Clinton - some are holding signs saying "Save the armadillos!" Last year, Dan Schmatz hit one of the slow moving armored creatures and crashed on this stage.

11:12 CDT   
The riders have reached the start of the route, but don't seem to be in a hurry to get going quite yet. They're enjoying the moderate temperatures and clear skies.

11:13 CDT    2miles/124miles to go
Ah ha! We have our first attack. The Mexican team, Tecos, has launched a rider, and he's marked by someone from Bissell and another from Colavita-Sutter Home.

11:15 CDT   
The riders are heading down a long, flat road which heads across one of the many lakes in the area. The peloton is wasting no time chasing down the early move - Toyota and Kelly Benefit Strategies are trying to get across, and the peloton is lined out behind.

11:19 CDT   
The peloton led by Mark Cavendish's Team Columbia has closed down the early move, and now the Tour leader is up front with his team and some Rock Racing riders. The bunch heads past the site of the "armadillo incident" without a problem. Apparently the little creatures have learned that hundreds of passing wheels can be dangerous to their health.

11:22 CDT    6miles/120miles to go
We have another attack from Colavita, and now have three riders off the front. Perhaps they want to be clear of the other riders so they can detect oncoming armadillos... The field is responding - this won't last long.

11:24 CDT    8miles/118miles to go
Just eight miles in and the action is heating up. Tecos is on the front as Dan Bowman (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) returns to the field after a flat tire.

11:25 CDT   
The field is all back together - but certainly we'll have another attack as the domestic teams fight to escape the field and give some publicity to their sponsors. It's a long stage and a perfect day for a medium-sized breakaway.

11:27 CDT   
Colavita is back on the attack now - this team is desperate to get into the break today. This rider is Luca Damiani (Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight), and he's gained a 15 second lead. He'll want some friends to join him - it's a long day to be riding solo.

11:31 CDT   
Sterling Magnell (Rock Racing) has bridged up to Damiani, and the pair have managed to maintain the 15 second lead, but the peloton is chasing hard. The race has turned off the highway and is on a narrow country road now.

11:34 CDT   
The course today is riddled with gently rolling hills which pass through lush farmland. There are plenty of barns, corn, soybeans, cotton, etc. The road is a bit rough and bumpy - we might see some riders get flat tires. It's still sunny over the riders and the winds have died down.

Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly) has bridged across to the leaders, well - not so much bridging as dragging the field to the leaders... that's the end for Damiani and Magnell.

11:37 CDT   
Despite the rolling hills, there aren't any classified climbs on today's route, so Dominique Rollin will get to keep his king of the mountains jersey for another day. There are two intermediate sprints, however, so we should see some action between the Garmin and Columbia teams of Tyler Farrar and Mark Cavendish, who are separated by three points in that competition. Farrar, in second, wears the sprint jersey as Cavendish is in the overall leader's kit.

11:38 CDT    15miles/111miles to go
Colavita is on the attack once again! this time it's Davide Frattini, who is joined by Richard Faltus (Team Sparkasse). Two more riders make it across, but the peloton isn't ready to let anyone go quite yet. The chase quickly nullifies the gap and we're all back in one big, happy bunch.

11:41 CDT   
We quickly get a counterattack - again Colavita and Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast. As expected, the domestic squads are hitting it hard this morning. We've got five riders off the front - we're working on getting their identities.

11:43 CDT   
Up in the move is Mike Sayers (BMC), Andy Guptill (Colavita), Andreas Schillinger (Sparkasse), Reid Mumford (KBS) and Andrew Randell (Symmetrics). Sayers, who has been a fixture of the US peloton for over ten years, has announced he will retire after Missouri. Maybe this will be the winning move today and he can go out with a big win?

11:46 CDT   
Cyclingnews has just learned that Thor Hushovd, the big Norwegian sprinter who has been job hunting after the demise of Credit Agricole, has joined the Cervelo Test Team along with Carlo Sastre.

11:47 CDT   
Back to Tour of Missouri, our leaders have been given the green light by the peloton - their gap has ballooned to over a minute. This looks like the break of the day, and the five brave men get down to the business of going fast.

11:50 CDT   
An interesting little tidbit about one of the riders in the break - Reid Mumford. This man is no ordinary bike racer, he's also pretty smart. He is currently working on his PhD in High Energy Particle Physics at John Hopkins University.

11:51 CDT    21miles/105miles to go
Mumford is also a pretty solid time trialist, and is adding some valuable power to this breakaway. The gap is up to 3'30 with 21 miles into the stage.

11:59 CDT    23miles/103miles to go
Schillinger won a stage of the Tour de Beauce this year. He and his teammate Eric Baumann escaped to take the fifth stage.

The gap has fallen slightly - down to 2'45 now.

12:01 CDT   
The race is still over 100 miles to the finish in Springfield - a town which may or may not be the model for the town in the cartoon The Simpsons. One of the main attractions of Springfield is the "Fantastic Caverns". In a beautifully American experience, one can take a motorized ride through some caves in the Fantastic Caverns.

12:05 CDT    26miles/100miles to go
The gap for the leaders is stable now, 2'40 and holding with the entire Team Columbia controlling the front of the peloton. The Toyota United squad is in the race, but they almost weren't - their team nearly missed the start and only rolled up at the last minute.

12:14 CDT    30miles/96miles to go
The five men up front aren't getting the same kind of latitude that the break received on last year's stage. Then, a break with George Hincapie gained 14 minutes on the field - an unrecoverable margin which race leader Ivan Dominguez' Toyota team did not have the power to close down.

Now, we've got a rider from the strongest team in the race in the overall lead, and Columbia is fully capable of keeping this under control.

The leaders headed over quite a large hill - bigger than stage one's KOM, but still unclassified. They've now reached the 50km mark, so that means they can feed from the cars. This might get the five men up front some more time as the teams in the peloton send their men back to the caravan for refreshments.

12:17 CDT   
Thanks to our readers, we've learned that not only is Mumford on his way to a PhD in particle physics (he's completed his requirements), he is also a new father. His wife Jenni gave birth to a boy named Magnus three weeks ago, and they are cheering him on from Batavia, Illinois.

12:26 CDT    36miles/90miles to go
The break gained a few seconds on a flat section of road, and the gap grew to 2'55. They're back into the rolling hills and farmland now, so the give up front have to work a bit harder to maintain their lead over the still entirely Columbia-led peloton.

12:30 CDT   
Bob Stapleton, manager of Team Columbia, was a tad annoyed that his team had to do all the work yesterday. He said that he had one rider from Garmin to help, but they did all the leg work. Now, with Cavendish as the leader, they are left to do all the work again.

12:36 CDT    38miles/88miles to go
The five riders in the break are continuing to work smoothly together. Each rider is taking a 15 second pull, and then heading to the back to draft. They're getting close to the feed zone now, so that might help them extend their now three minute lead.

12:47 CDT    44miles/82miles to go
The Colavita rider in the break is the young Andy Guptill - he's 25, and from New York state. Guptill was a product of the CRCA/Sakonnet U25 program which has turned out several talented new pros in recent years.

12:49 CDT   
Health Net's Karl Menzies was one of the riders who crashed in the finish of yesterday's stage. He's been riding with an injured wrist, but the team's soigneurs told us that he managed to avoid falling on that arm and only sustained some road rash. Still, it's not exactly the best way to start a stage race.

13:25 CDT    60miles/66miles to go
The breakaway is working very well together with each rider taking 15-20 second pulls. It is currently Andy Guptill on the front taking his turn in the wind. Team Columbia leads the chase. Not quite a chase, more like a good steady tempo to hold the gap at 2'50"

13:29 CDT   
The field is passing through the town of Stockton and approaching 1 km to the sprint. Rider Andreas Schillinger from Team Sparkasse has just attacked over the hill leading into the hot spot sprint for points.

13:30 CDT   
There is a great crowd out to watch the 'mini' finish line. It maybe the only spot they will have the opportunity see a real bike racing sprint, unless they travel down to the Springfield finish line for the real thing.

13:32 CDT   
Andreas Schillinger took a convincing win in the intermediate sprint ahead of Mike Sayers and Andy Guptill

13:37 CDT   
The peloton led by Team Columbia has crossed over the Stockton Dam and have gone through the sprint.

13:48 CDT   
The skies above our riders look as if they could come out of The Simpsons - it's a brilliant blue backdrop for the fluffy white clouds as the five men in front lead the way for the Tour of Missouri on its way to Springfield. The shadows are getting longer to the riders' left as the afternoon wears on for this 126mi slog through the countryside.

13:51 CDT    70miles/56miles to go
We're past the halfway point on the stage now, and it's time for a nature break in the peloton. The gap is still 2'50, but with this little break it might go back out for a time, and then surely Columbia will get it back under control.

Now is the time when we play "guess the catch". Send in your guess for the mile marker which is closest to the point where the peloton catches the last remaining rider in the break and you'll win your name in lights on Cyclingnews' live coverage.

13:55 CDT   
The scenery here in Missouri is fairly typical of the American midwest: green fields, farms, houses here and there, fences, trees - the long, straight, seemingly endless road stretching off into the distance ahead of our breakaway. It has to be a bit disheartening for them to not be pulling away - this is really an exercise in futility, but they're giving their teams important time and attention by being off the front of the race.

13:56 CDT   
The Symmetrics team represented by Andrew Randall will end after this race - they've been struggling with a reduced budget since the midpoint of the season, and the riders have been fighting to show themselves to earn contracts for the next season.

13:59 CDT   
Mike Sayers, who is in this move for BMC, has experienced his share of hard times in the peloton over his decade long career. He was part of the Mercury team which imploded years ago. That nearly ended his career, but he fought back, helped found the Health Net team, and now is finishing his career with BMC. He'll retire after this race, and he looked back on his experience - good and bad - with Cyclingnews last weekend. Stay tuned for the interview later in the week.

14:01 CDT   
Send your "guess the catch" emails to commentator@cyclingnews.com - you can guess in miles or kilometres because, thanks to the glorious power of the internet, we can convert the values quite easily!

14:03 CDT   
The entire Columbia team has been pulling the peloton along for the last 70+ miles with Mark Cavendish tucked in at the end of the train. Cavendish has had a brilliant season, and he has to be getting fatigued after taking stage wins in the Giro, the Tour, a world championship title in the Madison back in March. If he is tired, he's not showing it. He's won three stages at the Tour of Ireland and now leads the Tour of Missouri.

14:04 CDT   
Sayers heads through the feed zone and picks up his goodie bag. He's feeling peckish, and immediately digs into a little sandwich before he's even stowed the rest of the goods away.

14:06 CDT   
There are a couple fans who have pulled off at one of the many tiny farm roads along the course - they're fans of Brad Huff, and how do we know this? Well, it could be the flags with HUFF written in big letters which they are waving!

14:08 CDT    77miles/49miles to go
Huff's fan base in Missouri is large because he hails from our finishing town, Springfield. Unfortunately, he was one of the riders who went down in that crash on stage one, so he might not be in any shape to sprint today.

14:09 CDT   
The peloton is now in the feed zone which is in a town called "Fair Play". The population is said to be 418 by the sign at the town's edge, and it appears that most of those residents are out watching the riders go by.

14:12 CDT   
It looks like Team Columbia might be getting some help with the chase soon. They've got just three riders on the front, with the Liquigas squad right behind. Sparkasse is also well represented near the front, as is Garmin-Chipotle - all teams with sprinters who want to challenge Cavendish. Unfortunately, not many sprinters can beat the Manxman, as has been repeatedly demonstrated throughout the year.

14:14 CDT   
Canadian Michael Barry is the rider setting the pace for the peloton at the moment. He's followed by Craig Lewis, the young Greenville, South Carolina resident who came over to that team with his friend George Hincapie.

14:16 CDT   
Columbia also has three-time world time trial champion Mick Rogers near the front to set the pace for Cavendish - what breakaway can resist that kind of power? Not this one, it appears, as the gap has fallen now to 2'15 - it's almost too soon for the peloton to think about catching them.

14:19 CDT   
Why too soon? Simply put, the closer to the finish the catch is made, the easier it is for the sprinter's teams to control the race. If this break is caught 20 or 30 miles out, opportunists will have a chance to attack and potentially hold a gap to the finish.

That distance would be enough time for a break to gain an advantage and hold it, especially if there is a lack of cooperation in the field. If it's caught with a couple miles to go, most riders would not have the power to stay clear of the chasing peloton at the high speeds the bunch will be carrying into the finish.

14:25 CDT    80miles/46miles to go
The temperatures have gone up quite a bit here in the middle of nowhere Missouri, and the Liquigas riders have unzipped their jerseys almost all the way to get some cool air. The sun on the pavement makes the air a bit warmer for the riders than it would be if they were sitting in the cool, tall grass underneath the tall fir trees that are lining this road. Perhaps quite a bit warmer than if they were sitting in a lounge chair sipping cold lemonade rather than pedaling bikes...

At this point in the season, probably more than a few of these riders would rather be kicking back with a cold drink rather than riding this race, but this is their job.

14:27 CDT   
The five men in the break have emerged from the middle of nowhere to the outskirts of nowhere - and a small town has emptied itself onto the side of the road. About 30 people cheer the riders along before they disappear back into the uninhabited lands.

14:30 CDT    87miles/39miles to go
The peloton looks like it's doing a team team time trial - the Columbia squad is still occupying the front, while the red jerseys of Sparkasse are lined up behind followed by Liquigas. But so far none of them are throwing any weight into the chasing.

14:34 CDT   
Mark Cavendish, resplendent in the yellow jersey of the race leader, has drifted back through the peloton where the draft is better. He's got Bernard Eisel passing him bottles before the Austrian heads back up to the front to keep the pace high.

14:36 CDT   
The road is heartbreakingly straight, and disappears off into the horizon as if to remind the riders that the finish is still a long, long way off. The 2'45 gap is just barely enough to keep the breakaway just out of sight.

14:37 CDT   
Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) is having a rather animated discussion with Bernard Eisel (Columbia). We're not sure what they're discussing, but it apparently involves lots of pointing and gesticulating on the part of the Czech rider.

14:41 CDT    89miles/37miles to go
The breakaway still has 37 miles to go, and are being currently treated to the lovely aroma of a chicken farm on the side of the road. Fortunately, they get past it quickly and are back to passing the green green grassy fields.

The next intermediate sprint comes at mile 106, but as of yet we do not see the Garmin-Chipotle team coming to the fore to bring this back for Tyler Farrar. They're taking a back seat to Columbia at the moment, perhaps hoping the race's strongest team will tire itself out and open the door for someone else to win.

14:44 CDT   
Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) had a mechanical incident, but has rejoined the field without panic. Meanwhile, the five-man break is still working together well, and has increased their advantage to three minutes. But is it through their efforts? Or has the Columbia team slowed things down to delay the catch?

14:46 CDT   
Missouri might not have a reputation as a cycling hotbed, but this state has plenty of avid cyclists and cycling fans. Unlike the rural parts of Georgia, where nary a fan could be seen, even out in the unpopulated areas we've seen small groups of people on the roadsides. In Springfield, we're told that a bike shop called Cycles Unlimited is having a big party after the stage finish.

14:52 CDT    94miles/32miles to go
Still 30 miles to go, and the gap is beginning to fall thanks primarily to the efforts of Michael Barry, who is hammering along with the entire peloton strung out single file behind him. He's got his arms draped over the bars in an aerodynamic position, and has closed the gap to 2'20.

14:55 CDT   
A group of small children on the side of the road get a nice treat from Craig Lewis, who takes the last swig from his bottle and then times his toss so it lands right at their feet. They all dive for this little souvenir.

14:59 CDT    98miles/28miles to go
Up front the five men: Schillinger, Guptill, Sayers, Mumford and Randell are still looking pretty strong. The average speed has been up over 24mph, which is a brisk but not unmanageable pace for five men to hold. The pursuit by Columbia behind has brought the gap under two minutes for the first time, however. 1'50" at the moment and slowly falling.

15:01 CDT   
One can see exactly why cycling is popular in Missouri, as the roads here are smooth and the weather is simply perfect for riding a bike.

15:06 CDT    100miles/26miles to go
We've reached the century mark - the riders have completed 100 miles of the stage. That distance is the gold standard for recreational riders. Our heroes here at Tour of Missouri have covered those miles in less than four hours - that's fast!

15:09 CDT   
It looks like Garmin-Chipotle isn't going to fight for the intermediate sprints, even though Tyler Farrar is just four seconds out of the leader's jersey and three points from the lead in the sprint classification. Their argyle kits are nowhere to be seen at the front, as it's all Columbia, all the time.

15:11 CDT    102miles/24miles to go
The Columbia team has eased off the gas, and now the gap is out to 2'05 - they are clearly playing cat and mouse games with this breakaway. They give a bit of effort just to see how quickly they can bring down the gap, and then get a sense of how hard they need to work to time the catch just right.

5km to the next sprint, and no sense of urgency in our peloton at the moment. The points and the bonus seconds will go to one of our five riders in the break.

15:14 CDT   
All of the men in the break were at the same time relative to Cavendish at the start of the stage. Schillinger gained the maximum three bonus seconds at the first sprint, with Sayers and Guptill picking up two and one seconds each.

15:17 CDT    105miles/21miles to go
Uh-oh, the gap is falling much more quickly now as the race heads into the final 20 miles. The Columbia boys are in full time trial mode as the leaders see the 1km mark for the intermediate sprint. They'll survive this sprint, but with just 1'40", how much longer will they last? Guess the catch! Email commentator@cyclingnews now - polls close at the 20km mark.

15:18 CDT   
Sayers attacks early for the sprint, and he's marked by Schillinger. The big German has to work hard to get on the wheel...

15:19 CDT   
Schillinger gets on Sayers' wheel and easily comes by to take three more seconds, with Sayers taking 2. Guptill was third, just as with the first sprint.

15:21 CDT   
So with that effort, Schillinger has pulled himself into a tie for second overall with Tyler Farrar, while Sayers is tied for 4th with Chicchi of Liquigas. This is all contingent on them finishing at same time with Cavendish, but we must not forget the bigger time bonuses on the line for the finish - 10, 6 and 4 seconds for the top three.

15:22 CDT   
Cavendish looks over his shoulder and sees the entire Garmin-Chipotle team in his shadow. The field can see the break now - 1'25 now and falling fast. But, just as we say this the peloton fans out, which usually means the pace has slowed suddenly.

15:23 CDT   
This break still has some life left, and they quickly fell back to working together after that little sprint. Liquigas has at last put one man up front to help Columbia with the chase.

15:24 CDT    109miles/17miles to go
The gap behind the leaders is still over a minute, and the line of cars following them could soon disappear. Those cars will pull out of the gap when it falls below one minute, and it's just hovering at that mark now.

15:25 CDT   
And there is the wave of the race referee - she stands up in the sunroof of the COM car and tells the team cars to get lost. It's just the official, one Mavic neutral support car and a motorcycle left as the peloton bears down on our brave leaders. 50".

15:28 CDT   
The riders have left the lonely country roads behind and are now reaching the outskirts of Springfield. They've got 25km to go and are keeping the gap to the leaders steady at around a minute with Liquigas setting the pace.

15:30 CDT   
The break has panicked! Schillinger attacked, and the acceleration was the end of Mumford, who was quickly dropped. Sayers and Randell were quick to jump on the wheel, and then Guptill fought his way up.

15:30 CDT   
Now it's Sayers who hits the gas! The soon to be retiree gets a good gap, but Schillinger is going to nail him back.

15:31 CDT   
Actually, Schillinger drops Randell and Guptill and the joins Sayers at the front.

15:32 CDT   
Mumford continues his rearward movement, but Guptill and Randell make it to the leaders and Guptill takes a little dig, but gets nowhere.

15:34 CDT    112miles/14miles to go
With all this attacking, the leaders have managed to extend their advantage to 1'10. But it's costing them - they've reformed and then sat up. Schillinger gets them going again, then Sayers pulls through.

Back in the peloton, Mumford gets the blissfully strong draft of the big group of riders as they come past, but the relief won't last long as the pace is picking up.

15:35 CDT   
Garmin-Chipotle has sent it's motorcycle known as David Zabriskie to the front to help chase. The US time trial champion is looking fit and lean after working himself back to shape from a broken vertebrae suffered in the Giro.

15:36 CDT    113.5miles/12.5miles to go
20km to go and 1'00 for our breakaway. Voting on Guess the Catch is closed, and we've already proven a few readers to be inaccurate with guesses of 20km to go.

15:38 CDT   
Zabriskie has his head down and is giving a strong effort to bring the leaders back for his sprinter, Tyler Farrar. Pronounced Fair-uh, this youngster was ripping the legs off of his elders in the USA for years before he signed his first pro contract with Cofidis. He spent two years at the French team before coming back to the squad of Jonathan Vaughters. He spent a day in the yellow jersey at Tour of California in February before a virus made him too sick to continue.

15:40 CDT   
Well, if anything can dwarf the Tour of Missouri, it's news that Lance Armstrong really is making a comeback. His spokesman finally came out and said that Armstrong wants to WIN an 8th Tour de France. Stay tuned for more details.

15:43 CDT    117miles/9miles to go
Zabriskie has single handedly brought this gap down to 40 seconds, and the leaders will be caught, it's just a matter of how soon. Liquigas is lined up behind the Z-man, and they're in sight of the four remaining leaders with 9 miles to go.

15:44 CDT   
Zabriskie pulls off, and now it's Columbia on the front with Liquigas in tow. They'll be trying to put Chicchi, who is in 4th place, into the bonus seconds. The gap is just 25" as the leaders bunny hop some train tracks.

15:45 CDT    119miles/7miles to go
7 miles to go and just 20 seconds - the Liquigas team has three at the front now and they've got the breakaway under immense pressure. Schillinger gives it his all, and then Guptill takes a desperately hard pull and gaps the German. The four come back together, but they're losing ground.

15:46 CDT   
The train tracks caused a few flats in the field - Frank Pipp (Health Net) is getting a fresh wheel. Up front, Sayers is looking back and sees the field coming, but Guptill won't give up. He attacks, and Sayers is game to follow.

15:47 CDT   
Sayers attacks next, and Schillinger is the only one who can hold it. The other two will be quickly swallowed up by the peloton.

15:47 CDT   
Sayers sits up, sees the pack, but then jumps again and loses Schillinger. He's going to keep it going!

15:48 CDT   
But that's all he had, and now Sayers is our last man caught at mile 118.

15:48 CDT   
Garmin is taking over the lead on the peloton, fighting for the front with Liquigas. But Colavita is also hungry to get control as is BMC.

15:50 CDT   
There's a crash in the peloton! KBS, a Rock Racing and a Symmetrics rider hit the deck on the side of the road. BMC is taking control at the front of the peloton, waiting to hear who fell. One Colavita rider is up and walking, the rest are untangling bikes.

15:51 CDT    121miles/5miles to go
Liquigas and Sparkasse have their whole teams at the front. Columbia has lost control, but are still near the front along with Garmin and the black jerseys of Health Net.

15:52 CDT   
The riders from the wreck are fighting their way back on and a Symmetrics rider attacks! it's Will Routley.

15:53 CDT   
Routley gets a sizeable gap, but can he hold it? They're on the finishing circuit now, and he's got 10 seconds.

15:54 CDT   
Oh, but he's fading. His face is a brilliant crimson, and he's suffering badly to hold those five seconds.

15:54 CDT   
Two laps to go and Routley is done - Columbia is back on the front with Liquigas.

15:55 CDT    122miles/4miles to go
Four miles to go and it's all blue and green at the front. Cavendish is a bit far back, but protected by his team. The bunch takes a hard downhill left and this time, no crashes.

15:55 CDT   
Liquigas has control, and they've got the field lined out. Tyler Farrar is on the wheel of Cavendish looking focused.

15:57 CDT   
The crowds on the Springfield circuit are concentrated at the finish line, but scattered around the two mile loop are a few clumps of fans. All the riders are up from the crash and on the circuit, but not all have rejoined the field. The bunch has eased up a touch as teams battle for position.

15:58 CDT    124miles/2miles to go
Garmin is up there as is Jelly Belly, who will want hometown boy Brad Huff to take the win. He, like Cavendish, has had plenty of experience on the track and has a strong sprint. We've got an attack now..

15:58 CDT   
It's Bissell's Garrett Peltonen, but he doesn't get far...

15:59 CDT   
Peltonen is dangling at the front, but is caught by the Columbia train with Cavendish tucked safely behind Eisel.

16:00 CDT   
Cavendish has to swerve to avoid a little deceleration from the riders in front of him, but he keeps it up and gets back into Eisel's draft.

16:00 CDT   
Columbia has firm control, but Garmin has a man up there, but without Farrar on his wheel.

16:01 CDT   
Now Garmin takes over, with Liquigas in second - coming into the final kilometre!

16:01 CDT   
It's all Garmin now - Cav in 4th wheel with Sparkasse coming up.

16:01 CDT   
Hincapie takes over and sprints all out for the 500m mark

16:01 CDT   
And now it's the turn of Eisel and he launches Cav!

16:02 CDT   
Liquigas comes on the left...

16:02 CDT   
But it's Cavendish again! The Manx express strikes for the second time in a row!

16:03 CDT   
There was absolutely no way any other sprinter could take on a train like that. The speed was so high, all Cav had to do was put his head down and ride - it was reminiscent of the old days of Cipollini and his train.

16:04 CDT   
It looked like Chicchi might have been second, but we're waiting for confirmation.

16:05 CDT   
Congratulations to Luke Seemann, our winner of Guess the Catch!

16:07 CDT   
Several of the crash victims were lapped in the finale. Jonny Sundt (KBS), Sebastian Haedo (Colavita) and Justin Williams all finished a lap down.

16:09 CDT   
It was Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse) who took second - the German's team did a lot of work to put him into position. Chicchi was third, and should now be second overall.

16:11 CDT   
Thank you for following the longest stage of Tour of Missouri with us here on Cyclingnews. The blimp will be flying over Branson tomorrow, hovering over the 18 mile time trial course to bring you the coverage of the race's decisive stage. Tune in at 11am CDT, Noon EDT and 6PM Euro time.

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