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Tour of Missouri - 2.1

USA, September 8-14, 2008

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Stage 5 - September 12: St. James - Jefferson City, 108 miles

Complete live report

Live commentary by Sue George with additional reporting by Kirsten Robbins and Mark Zalewski

13:29 CDT    Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of Missouri. We're gearing up for the start of stage five at 2:00 pm local time. Today's stage will run from Saint James to Jefferson City.

13:56 CDT    Today is another hot and sticky one. It's in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit) and quite humid. There is a slight breeze, which makes it somewhat bearable, thankfully. There are some rainstorms threatening for the end of the race.

13:58 CDT    Racers will get a 1.7 mile neutral section in St. James, Missouri, to help warm up their weary legs before the action gets going. Yesterday was a tough day, with Columbia doing everything it could to take over the lead. In the end, yellow jersey Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) held tough and held on to his lead.

14:00 CDT    Going into today, Vande Velde has 18 seconds on Michael Rogers (Team Columbia) and 43 seconds on Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Cycling Team) in the GC.

14:02 CDT    The sun's come out just in time for the start. Our thermometer says 88 degrees. In the neutral start, riders will cross two sets of rail road tracks. It's good for them they won't be taking them at race speed. On such a humid day as today, they could be a little slippery.

14:03 CDT    We can't imagine Columbia wanting to take the race lead any less than yesterday. That, coupled with a relatively early sprint at mile 23.2, will probably mean lots of attacks as soon as the race is officially started.

14:08 CDT    Even though the riders have reached the end of the neutral section, officials are still keeping neutral status due to a rider mechanical.

14:11 CDT    1miles/108miles to go And they've started racing officially now. No more neutral. Fasten your seat belts, folks! We predict some serious attacks are about to begin.

14:11 CDT    And in fact, they have. Two riders launch themselves. Talk about not wasting any time.

14:11 CDT    And no surprises here, it's a Columbia rider and a Garmin / Chipotle rider going for it.

14:14 CDT    Yesterday's stage was blisteringly fast, with an average speed of 46.79 km/h or 29.07 mph. It makes us tired just thinking about it. It was so fast that the majority of the peloton came in 18:37 behind the leaders. This was actually outside the time cut by two minutes, but officials increased it to 10% so as not to have an 18-rider peloton for the final three days.

14:14 CDT    The two break riders have been caught and the peloton is all together.

14:17 CDT    4miles/105miles to go A Health Net Maxxis rider launches an attack. Riders today ride an almost S-shaped point to point route. Early on, they will travel through Gasconade County, Bland County and Maries County.

14:18 CDT    It was Kirk O'Bee, and he gets some company quickly from three other riders: Thomas Berkhout (Rabobank Continental), Andreas Schillinger (Team Sparkasse) and Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia). They quickly gain 10 seconds, no wait, make that 20 seconds.

14:24 CDT    There is just one KOM today and two intermediate sprints, plus more sprint points on the finish line. Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse) leads the sprint competition but he is followed by Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) just one point behind.

14:25 CDT    9miles/100miles to go The four leaders almost got caught, but as the peloton reeled them back in, four more attacked and bridged up, bringing us to a group of eight off the front. Our four newly arrived are Richard England (Bissell Pro Cycling), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Gianni Da Ros (Liquigas) and Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team).

14:30 CDT    11miles/98miles to go The gap's down to 10 seconds and the field is chasing hard. The leaders just went over a narrow, one-lane bridge. Hopefully the pack will get through ok, but they are so strung out, that should help the chances.

14:30 CDT    The leaders are caught - peloton is all together again.

14:32 CDT    The top sprinters, Cavendish and Baumann, used to be team-mates together, on Teams T-Mobile and Team Sparkasse. Baumann calls Cavendish "Cav". "It's going to be a battle," Baumann told Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski before the start. "Cav is going to be tough to beat, but as an advantage for me, Columbia will be pretty busy trying to get back the GC." Baumann said he'd like to win a stage before the end of the race.

14:38 CDT    Marcel Beima (Rabobank Continental) and Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team) have attacked and earned themselves a 10 second gap. Tecos is at the front chasing hard as our some others - no one wants to let them get away with the first sprint coming up at mile 23.2.

14:39 CDT    Today, we're riding in the technical director's car with Chuck Hodge. We'd like to give a special thanks to Chuck for the ride. This car is Chuck's mobile office as he directs the race. He's got seven radios in here. And he can tell us things like that we are 960 feet above sea level (altitude).

14:40 CDT    The two leaders are caught and another counter attack is launched.

14:46 CDT    19miles/90miles to go That group was caught, but the attacks are going - nothing sticks yet. The sun is peeking through clouds, but there is no rainso far. Just four more miles until today's first sprint. It is in the town of Bland and the approach to the line is very straight and very flat.

14:50 CDT    A relatively large group has just escaped off the front, with a 30 second gap, including Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia), Gianni Da Ros (Liquigas), Michael Van Stayen (Rabobank Continental), Lui Alfredo Gutierrez Colunga (Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara), Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Caleb Manion (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team), Chris Wherry (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team), Kyle Gritters (Health Net p/b Maxxis), Luis Amaran (Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight), David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team). It's interesting that Cavendish is in there - nice timing approaching the sprint. There are no Sparkasse riders in there to help defend Baumann's sprint points lead.

14:50 CDT    Dirk Müller (Team Sparkasse), Edward King (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis) try to chase them down.

14:51 CDT    No luck for the chasers - they are caught. The lead group now has 40 seconds with 1km to go until the Bland sprint.

14:52 CDT    200m to go until the sprint.

14:55 CDT    Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) takes sprint #1. Behind him are Chris Wherry (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team) and Caleb Manion (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team).

14:56 CDT    23miles/86miles to go Having reached Bland, our route, which was mostly headed north, takes a turn to the west generally. We'll go slightly southwest to Vienna, home of intermediate sprint #2 today in another 22 miles.

15:02 CDT    26miles/83miles to go The leaders are in Belle, now with a 1.15 advantage. The dozen are working together well - collaborating to extend their lead.

15:04 CDT    A high school drum corps is outside as we pass by. Sparkasse seems quite serious about chasing and their efforts are being rewarded - the gap is back down to 45 seconds.

15:07 CDT    Sparkasse gets a hand driving the peloton's chase from Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight. There are no GC threats in the break, so you might think the peloton would let the break go for awhile, but Sparkasse is motivated to bring Cavendish back in so he doesn't take all the sprint points from Baumann. The gap is down to 37 seconds.

15:11 CDT    Our thermometer tells us it is 85 degrees. Coupled with the high humidity, conditions are challenging. In response, officials have decided to allow the riders to accept feeds earlier than planned to help keep them hydrated.

15:15 CDT    32miles/77miles to go The peloton is at one minute. Colavita is chasing. The team missed the big break yesterday and were upset about it afterward. They won't want to miss another one today. Sparkasse is also chasing ... still trying to bring back Cavendish, who is now the virtual sprint points overall leader on the road.

15:17 CDT    There are time bonuses at the sprints and the finish. So far, that's having no impact on the GC because there is no one in close contention for the overall lead in the break; however, there's still plenty of time for positions to shuffle during the rest of the stage - especially if this break gets caught at some point. On the other hand, if they stay off the front, they'll eat up the time bonuses and keep them from impacting those who are at the top of the overall classification.

15:21 CDT    35miles/74miles to go The lead dozen has 1.5 minutes on the peloton. The hills are steeper and bigger around here than in the other stages so far, it feels like we are having more up and down - less flat. There are 10 miles to go until the second sprint.

15:24 CDT    Some teams are rather worried about the heat and humidity. We've been seeing some illegal feeds - from impromptu stations set up along side the road - such as a team car sent ahead and pulled over with personnel standing along side the road handing off fluids. The riders could legally feed from the cars at this point, but it is not legal for them to accept feeds from alongside the course except in designated feed stations. It's an expensive decision to make - the teams are fined US$250 per day for infractions. And apparently some of the teams have been doing this each day. They obviously want to keep certain riders hydrated.

15:29 CDT    38miles/71miles to go The 12 leaders see seven miles to go until sprint #2. Their gap has grown to 3.25. Garmin / Chipotle will be very happy with this move - they have no reason to chase the break back since none of its riders are a threat to Christian Vande Velde's lead. He's got at least 10 minutes on all of them so he and his team get to chill out for awhile.

15:32 CDT    They will probably appreciate they break after yesterday's brutally fast stage. Svein Tuft (Symmetrics), who is third in the GC, commented to Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski, about how tough yesterday was for most of the racers.

15:35 CDT    42miles/67miles to go The leaders see 5km to go until sprint #2 in Vienna.

15:38 CDT    It might seem like a quiet day in bike racing. That's in part due to the fact that the Vuelta a Espana is taking a rest day. We sure hope the riders in Spain are resting up because tomorrow will be a big day for them with the famous Angliru to test them. It is an incredibly steep climb with pitches up to 23%. The stage will finish on the Angliru, but it's not the only climb of the day - there are several other big ones, including Alto del Ortigueiro, Alto de la Faya de los Lobos, Alto de Colladiella and Alto del Cordal.

15:41 CDT    The leaders see 1km to go to the sprint. It's about 500m up to the line, which is in front of a school. All the kids are out waiting for them to zoom by.

15:41 CDT    Michael Van Stayen (Rabobank Continental) is leading the charge to the line - 200m to go.

15:42 CDT    This one looks a little more like a KOM than a sprint - with the uphill to the line.

15:44 CDT    45miles/64miles to go Cavendish takes his second sprint of the day. Next up for the leaders is lunch time - at the feed.

15:48 CDT    The break riders are all sitting up, taking a chance to eat and drink what they picked up from the feed zone. It's a nice level and straight road, a good place to sit up and snack.

16:01 CDT    51miles/58miles to go Our leaders now have a gap of 3.05. Coming up next, but still a good way away, is the only KOM of the day. It's at mile 70.5. Dominique Rollin (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team) is leading the KoM classification. He's got a healthy nine point lead over Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis).

16:04 CDT    We already mentioned that Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) won the second sprint. He was followed by Michael Van Stayen (Rabobank Continental) and David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast).

16:05 CDT    We have a correction on those sprint results. Second place went to Lui Alfredo Gutierrez Colunga (Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara), not the Rabobank rider we mentioned.

16:06 CDT    The peloton is keeping the lead dozen on a short leash. No one will want to let them get too far off - all the chasers have stage win hopes after all, plus there will be more time bonus seconds available at the finish.

16:14 CDT    Scott Zwizanski (Bissell Pro Cycling) has some bad luck - double flat for him. He must have ridden over something. The peloton is at 3.15. The leader Christian Vande Velde is still comfortably situated in the main group.

16:18 CDT    60miles/49miles to go Once the racers arrive in the finishing town of Jefferson City, they will cross the line the first time and see two finishing circuits to go. There are some dark clouds in sight from Jefferson - we'll have to wait and see if the evening thunderstorms hold off. Rain would sure make the finish trickier.

16:26 CDT    64miles/45miles to go The gap between the leaders, who are rotating evenly to share the workload, is dropping slightly. It's at 3.00. If these guys can stay off the front, Cavendish will be the favorite going into the final sprint. But first they have six miles to go until the KOM.

16:29 CDT    "Yesterday was such a tough stage it was a slug fest it was crazy," Svein Tuft, in third on the GC, told Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins before the start. "I don't think we've ever experienced anything like that in my life. Columbia was so strong."

16:30 CDT    Tuft didn't rule out more changes in the GC happening today, Saturday or Sunday. "It is dangerous because Columbia is so stacked...the GC is not even close to being sewn up," he said. "I think I'm going to have to pick and chose my battles and stay safe, conserve and pay attention to only the guys I absolutely have too."

16:35 CDT    67miles/42miles to go The peloton has closed the gap to 2.30. The leash is getting shorter... In the meantime, they've got just 5km to go for the leaders to the KOM - the only one of today.

16:36 CDT    Cyclo-cross World Champion Lars Boom (Rabobank) decided to come to visit the USA for the first time by joining his team in Missouri. He's been here all week helping his team in the feedzone.

16:39 CDT    The KoM is mis-marked on the road today. So it's a little confusing, but we've got 1km to go to the one we think they are going for.

16:40 CDT    In fact, due to the mistake in the marking, our KOM will actually be downhill! Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) and Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) are coming off on the climbs up to the KOM. They are struggling.

16:46 CDT    70miles/39miles to go The actual KOM was more like a false flat downhill - it's slightly downhill but mostly flat. Maybe they should call it a KoFFD - King of False Flat Downhill? Cavendish has regained contact with the leaders after the line. We'll get you the results as soon as we can.

16:47 CDT    KOM results are 1 Caleb Manion (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team), 2 Henk Vogels (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team), 3 Kyle Gritters (Health Net p/b Maxxis), 4 Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team), 5 Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team)

16:50 CDT    75miles/34miles to go From here on out, racers will have their minds on the finish in Jefferson City, Missouri's state capital. It'll be a tough finish. The last 500m are all uphill. In addition their are two turns near the end leading up to the finish.

16:54 CDT    The lead dozen are all back together and working together. Their gap is down to 2.10. The peloton won't be in too much of a rush to catch them as all the sprints and KOMs are done. But it's likely they'll still pull the leaders back in time for the finish. We expect fireworks closer to the end if that happens, with lots of counterattacks to follow. Let us know what you think - email commentator@cyclingnews.com with your predictions about if and when the break will get caught.

16:56 CDT    78miles/31miles to go Missouri native Brad Huff said today's course has the same as finish of state championships criterium course - which mean's he's ridden it routinely since he was a category five racer. The slightly uphill last two turns and definitely uphill final sprint should make the last kilometer slower than it has been in the previous stages this week.

17:07 CDT    Tim Johnson (Health Net p/b Maxxis) told Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins before the stage that he was afraid today would be like yesterday - very tough. Well, that certainly hasn't proven to be the case as this break has been allowed to hang off the front for most of the day. He did say that "if the race comes down to a sprint, we'll set up our young guy John Murphy. We need to get on a podium and get a stage win. Those are our number one goals."

17:12 CDT    85miles/24miles to go The peloton has closed the gap down to 1.30.

17:18 CDT    88miles/21miles to go Sparkasse is on the front of the peloton, leading the chase with just over 20 miles to go. They've brought back another 20 seconds - the gap is 1.10.

17:21 CDT    90miles/19miles to go The leaders are passing through the city of Taos with a population of 179. Their advantage has dropped again - now just 55 seconds. Looks like the clock is ticking...

17:24 CDT    There is some action within the break. The see the writing on the wall and a few riders attack. Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) initiates the move. His timing was interesting - Cavendish was in the midst of a nature break. Perhaps they are trying to get rid of the sprinter Cavendish in case they can manage to stay away?

17:25 CDT    Looks like Cavendish has had enough of that. He sat up and let himself get caught by the peloton.

17:25 CDT    The attack has some other consequences - the break is down to four riders now off.

17:27 CDT    Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Chris Wherry (Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team) and David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) are left. The others from the original break are gradually being swallowed up by the peloton.

17:30 CDT    This is a decisive move - these four are casting their lot - giving it a shot for the stage win.

17:31 CDT    Original break members Luis Amaran (Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight) and Gianni Da Ros (Liquigas) are cooked - getting caught by the peloton.

17:34 CDT    95miles/14miles to go Now it's just our four leaders - leftover from the original break. They have one minute over the peloton, but there's still a long way to go for that amount of gap.

17:37 CDT    These four men are looking at a 20km team time trial if they keep working together and can stay off. The four domestic teams represented are likely enjoying some time in the spotlight in a race in which Columbia and Garmin / Chipotle have been commanding a majority of the attention.

17:38 CDT    Michael Creed (Rock Racing) is hurting in the break. Behind them the Sparkasse team is driving the chase.

17:39 CDT    Bryce Mead (Jelly Belly Cycling Team) has a mechanical.

17:41 CDT    98miles/11miles to go The four, all lined up singlefile, are now just 35 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) is still riding quite strong - taking solid pulls at the front.

17:42 CDT    David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) attacks his break mates.

17:43 CDT    They catch him and all four are together again. They are watching each other like cat and mouse.

17:44 CDT    David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) and Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) attack and get a gap.

17:44 CDT    Lill attacks Veilleux. Behind them Creed and Wherry are sent home to the peloton.

17:46 CDT    Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) and David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) reach the finishing circuits together in Jefferson City.

17:47 CDT    103.7miles/5.3miles to go The lead duo has just 10 seconds now. They will pass the state capital building and see two circuits to go.

17:48 CDT    Now they have just five seconds, but they are keeping at it - not giving up.

17:49 CDT    David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) and Darren Lill (BMC Racing Team) look to each other and decided to shake and call it done for the day. The peloton reabsorbs them after a long day off the front.

17:49 CDT    Health Net Maxxis is leading now.

17:50 CDT    Garmin / Chipotle are trying to control the peloton. A Colavita rider attacks and gets a gap. Columbia moves up and joins Garmin in trying to control the peloton.

17:51 CDT    Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia), Mike Sayers (BMC Racing Team) and Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) lead an now intact peloton.

17:53 CDT    The circuit is rather hilly and will make four a challenging finish, especially with the final uphill finish. Columbia takes over the pace making at the front, but even it does not have a full team up there. Several teams seem to have a few riders each up front.

17:53 CDT    They have 1km until they see one lap to go.

17:54 CDT    It's a Rabobank rider attacking solo, slightly off the front. A BMC rider counterattacks.

17:54 CDT    106.3miles/2.7miles to go One lap to go! Frank Pipp has 50m - he's off the front. Tony Cruz is chasing him.

17:55 CDT    We spot Ivan Dominguez about two thirds of the way back in the peloton. He seems to be out of position for any chance at a win today.

17:55 CDT    Pipp still has a five second advantage. Riders are falling off the back one, two, and three at a time.

17:56 CDT    Pipp has been caught. His attack is countered.

17:56 CDT    It's a Liquigas rider.

17:57 CDT    Another rider goes off the front - it's Anthony Colby (Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight) - trying to catch the Liquigas rider, but they are not together.

17:57 CDT    Colby gets caught. Now it's just the Liquigas rider off.

17:57 CDT    He's caught and they're all together.

17:57 CDT    One kilometer to go.

17:58 CDT    A Jelly Belly gives it a shot at the front.

17:58 CDT    Kelly Benefits is chasing. 500m to go.

17:59 CDT    It's an all out sprint. They catch the Jelly belly rider.

17:59 CDT    It's a Rabobank rider who wins the sprint.

17:59 CDT    Unofficially, it's Boy Van Poppel (Rabobank Continental) taking the win in the field sprint.

18:00 CDT    The stragglers that dropped off the back on the finish circuit are starting to roll across the line. We'll get you the provisional top few places as soon as we can.

18:00 CDT    Vande Velde made it across with the main peloton - near the front of it safely - so he should remain in yellow for tomorrow.

18:07 CDT    Boy Van Poppel's win is official. Team-mate Michael Van Stayen (Rabobank Continental) captures second while Kevin Lacombe (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast gets third.

18:10 CDT    That wraps up our coverage for stage five of the Tour of Missouri. Thanks for spending the afternoon with us! Please join us again tomorrow for stage six, which will run 96 miles from Hermann to St. Charles. Coverage will begin at 12:30 pm local time.

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