Tour of Missouri - 2.1
USA, September 8-14, 2008
Results & report
Stage 6 - September 13: Hermann - St. Charles, 96 miles
Complete live report
Live coverage by Laura Weislo with reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins in Missouri
Please join us for live coverage of stage six, which will run 96 miles from Hermann to St. Charles. Coverage will begin at 12:30 pm local time.
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of Missouri. It's another cloudy, muggy day here in the midwest. So far the racers will be spared any of Hurricane Ike's rain bands, but they might get a taste of tropical weather tomorrow.
The blimp is therefore spared being grounded because of the storm's winds, and we're floating high above the town of Hermann, where the riders have departed onto their neutral circuit.
The overall leader, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle), holds a slim 18 second advantage over Columbia's Michael Rogers. Yesterday, the GC contenders had a bit of a break after an aggressive stage four, when a break of riders well down on the standings went clear. We expect today's stage to be the decisive one for the contenders, with plenty of hills for attacks to be launched.
Despite only being 2.4 miles in length, the neutral section has seen several riders go back for mechanical assistance. We may see a bit of a delay in the action because of this.
At last, all of the riders have sorted out their bike problems and the race is on! 96 miles to go over some tough, rolling terrain. It doesn't take long before we have the first attack, and it's a Tecos and a Rabobank Conti rider who launch the first move.
The race quickly comes back together, but we're sure to have a flurry of attacks just as we have for every stage (except the time trial, of course). There are three sprints and three KOM's today, the first sprint coming at mile 15.8 - early today!
The first KOM doesn't come until mile 40, but the course is all up and down until then, so it won't be easy going.
A group of 20 riders split from the field, but wasn't working well together. Three riders remain off the front at ten seconds...
It was Hilton Clarke (Toyota), Carlos Oyarzun (Tecos) and Roman Kilun (Health Net p/b Maxxis) who made the break, but it's still too early and there are too many fresh legs in the peloton for the break to work. They're caught, and immediately countered.
Columbia is being attentive again today, marking every move that goes or chasing every move they miss. So far the team has won three stages - can they do it again today?
12:50 CDT 5miles/91miles to go
Five miles into the race, a group of nine has managed to get a gap. The Kelly Benefit Strategies team has now taken up the chase.
The group of nine was caught, and as per the script more riders attack. The average speed so far is only 27mph - only! Thursday's stage started out over 30mph, but here the roads are a bit hillier.
Ten riders have separated themselves now. The riders will be working up a good sweat today - temps are climbing up into the 80's (F), pushing 30C.
Our overall leader is Vande Velde, while Mark Cavendish is in the green sprinter's jersey. Dominique Rollin (Toyota) is in the blue KOM leader's kit - and he wants to keep that until the end. His closest competition will come from Health Net's Frank Pipp, who is 9 points behind. Rollin said the team's goal is still stage wins, but he wants to keep the mountains classification lead.
The group of ten has swelled to nearly 20 now, with Columbia, Sparkasse, Rock Racing, Health Net and rabobank all represented. A flash of lime green is in there, too - Liquigas. The group is about 10 seconds clear.
The group of 20 just couldn't get it together, and they were caught by the peloton. Now Tim Johnson (Health Net p/b Maxxis) attacks! He must be gearing up his fitness for cyclo-cross season. Garmin and Sparkasse are chasing.
13:06 CDT 13miles/83miles to go
Johnson is caught, and now Liquigas is on the front. They've got 5km to go before the first intermediate sprint, and while the Italian team isn't in it for that classification, they might be interested in the cash bonuses on the line.
The next attack goes, this time from Columbia and Rock Racing. Just as they go, poor Dan Holloway (Garmin) has a mechanical. He's losing ground on the peloton, and now more guys are going across to the break.
Crash! Riders go off the road, which looks a bit sandy, and go down into the field. This race has been riddled with wrecks, but that's not too unusual given the aggressive racing. The field slows up to let the downed riders get up.
Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team), Sergio Hernandez (Rock Racing), Andrew Randell (Symmetrics Cycling Team) and Cesar Augusto Grajales (Rock Racing) were in that wreck, but they're all up and rolling. More attacks fly now - Jelly Belly, Sparkasse and Columbia are clear, but the field is right on their heels.
13:11 CDT 15miles/81miles to go
1km to go before the sprint - there's a little rise with 200m to go. The Sparkasse rider attacks, and the Columbia rider is on him.
The pair are clear with three more trying to get across - they whoosh past the sprint line so quickly that the air they pushed aside blows over the sprint sign. It was a close one between the two leaders...
Grajales and Henk Vogels (Toyota) were in that crash, and both have now abandoned the race. Tyler Farrar (Garmin) is back at the team car after having a problem, and is being paced back by his team. A big group of riders has formed off the front.
At the sprint, it was Eisel who was chasing Baumann. They went across the sprint line as:
1 Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse)
2 Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia)
3 Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team)
Now, a group with these three has 30 seconds.
The break is as follows: Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia), Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas), Jos Van Emden (Rabobank Continental), Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Scott Zwizanski (Bissell), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Caleb Manion (Toyota - United), Rory Sutherland (Health Net) and Davide Frattini (Colavita).
Brad Huff is about 15 seconds behind the leaders, who have gained 45 seconds on the field. Behind the peloton, there are still several riders chasing back on after the crash.
Huff just doesn't have the gas to make it across, so he goes back to the peloton, which is still 45 seconds behind the leaders. The next sprint comes at mile 27.8 in Washington.
Looks like Jeff Louder is the highest placed rider on GC in this break, and because of that, Symmetrics, which is hoping to keep Svein Tuft on the podium spot, is chasing hard.
The riders have reached a bridge that is under construction, and the cars are diverted to one side while the riders go over the other side. The surface hasn't been paved yet, and the DOT was supposed to put down metal grating, but didn't get to it. So the race organisation picked up some carpet and put it down on the bridge so the riders could get over it.
13:27 CDT 23miles/73miles to go
The gap is holding steady around 40 seconds now as Andrew Randell (Symmetrics) finally makes it back to the bunch after going down in that crash. He gets a bottle from the car and takes a big swig - that chase was thirsty work!
The sun has come out over the racers, and that will help heat things up. They have to enjoy it while they can, because Ike is coming to Missouri, and is expected to dump a lot of rain.
The second sprint is a few miles away, and there will be a $500 prime on the line for the first rider across.
Sergio Hernandez (Rock Racing) is in the caravan, still chasing on from the crash. We think everyone is either in the cars or out of the race that was involved.
5km to go for the second sprint, and we've got another name in the break that we missed earlier: Carlos Oyarzun (Tecos). The gap is up to one minute for the break, but as of yet is not threatening Vande Velde's lead. Louder, the highest placed rider, was 2'42 back at the start.
13:39 CDT 27miles/69miles to go
The leaders are 1km to the second sprint, and heading down the historic downtown road - it's twisty and turny and a little rough. They're passing a wedding party now - I bet the bride and groom will remember this!
Baumann attacks for the sprint, and Eisel follows.
Baumann takes the sprint again, and Eisel keeps going through a hard right turn just after the line, while Baumann sits up to wait for the group. Third in the sprint was Jos Van Emden (Rabobank Continental).
Baumann started the day 14 points behind Cavendish in the sprint classification, and now that he's taken the two sprints, he's only 9 points behind. Eisel tried to take the points away for his teammate, but the Sparkasse rider was too fast.
Eisel goes back to the team car for a chat and a bottle. The Columbia team has used just about every tactic to try and dislodge Vande Velde from the leader's jersey. There are still some hills that might give them a chance to attack, but the end of the stage is fairly flat, which could allow everything to come back together before the end.
13:49 CDT 30miles/66miles to go
Hmmm - the gap for the leaders is up to three minutes now and that means Louder is in the virtual lead. This will put pressure on the Garmin-Chipotle team to chase now, while Columbia, with Eisel in the break, will not be obligated to work.
Interesting - the gap is out to four minutes now. So far there is no panic from the Garmin team, who is busy passing bottles and food to Vande Velde. But his yellow jersey could be passing on to Louder if this break maintains this gap. We have a correction to the break - it's not Chicchi but Matej Mugerli in the move for Liquigas.
Garmin must be feeling confident about their ability to chase this down, as they've now let the gap go out to 4'45! The break is heading up and over one of several unclassified climbs in this area, and the Tecos rider, Oyarzun, is in the lead.
13:59 CDT 35miles/61miles to go
The racers don't have to worry much about the huge increase in gas prices due to Hurricane Ike's disruption of Texas refinery operations, the teams are feeling the pinch when they fuel up their cars. Gas has gone up to $5/gallon in some parts of the South and Midwest.
The riders will be feeling the effects of Ike tomorrow, though, as the storm is expected to pass through St. Louis during race time tomorrow and dump up to six inches of rain.
Sergio Hernandez (Rock Racing), the rider who has been chasing after a crash a long time ago abandoned the race. Now Rock Racing is down to just a couple riders.
14:05 CDT 38miles/58miles to go
The gap is coming down slightly now that Garmin has put the team on the front of the peloton. They're getting help from the Symmetrics squad, too. The team from Canada has Tuft in third overall, and that's one reason to help. But they're also dissolving at the end of the season after losing their sponsor, and might be trying to show Jonathan Vaughters that they're worth looking at when it comes to contracts.
5km to the KOM.
The riders are passing by some corn fields - this are of the USA is part of the "corn belt" where much of the grain that feeds the world's cattle is grown. Most of the corn grown in the US is feed corn, not the delicious sweet corn that is the mainstay of summer barbecues.
The gap is falling steadily now. That's because of the work of Garmin and Symmetrics, but also because the break is heading up toward the KOM, which is a nasty little steep climb. It's less than 1km long - the 200m mark is also 5km to the second climb.
14:10 CDT 41miles/55miles to go
There's a nice crowd at the Augusta KOM, and the leaders are coming up to 1km to go.
The race is paralleling the Katy Trail, a lovely recreational route which runs past many of the wineries in this region. It seems that bike races and wine regions go very well together!
The Tecos rider attacked for the KOM, and was followed by Matej Mugerli (Liquigas). Baumann led the way for the rest of the group ahead of Louder and Scott Zwizanski (Bissell). We've got less than 5km to go to the next climb.
The next KOM will be a little bit longer, and not quite as steep. However, unlike the last climb which flattened out at the top, allowing a sprinter like Baumann to take points, this one climbs all the way to the line.
The breakaway is not threatening Rollin's mountains jersey - Pipp is closest in that classification, but didn't get in the move. Caleb Manion is the only rider in the top ten on that classification in the move, but he's on Rollin's team. He didn't take any points at the first climb, but we may see him make a move on the next one.
One of the fans on this KOM, shirtless of course, as is de rigeur for silly fan tactics, runs alongside the breakaway with a US flag draped on his shoulders. He nearly pegs the 1km to go sign, however, and loses his momentum.
Carlos Oyarzun attacks again for the KOM as the break now has just 3 minutes.
Zwizanski is struggling with the pace on the climb, but they're almost to the top - he should be able to get back on in the descent.
Creed goes after the Tecos rider, but can't get him before the line. Eisel takes third, with Mugerli and Louder snatching the last of the points.
14:23 CDT 45miles/51miles to go
The climb was tougher, and split the leading bunch into two over the top. There is a pretty good descent, and the third KOM (a new one this year) is still ten miles away, after a feed zone.
The gap is down to three minutes for our leaders, who have gotten back together after that climb. There was a fast fun-looking descent on the other side that allowed the stragglers to catch back up.
14:32 CDT 48miles/48miles to go
The Garmin and Symmetrics teams are slowly chipping away at the gap to the leaders - it's down to 2'50 now.
The peloton is still in one long line thanks to pace setting of Garmin with Symmetrics helping out and Columbia lined up behind Garmin. We are 5k from the feed zone and coming up a new KOM climb to the race this year. The climb was added thanks to the input of Jeff Corbett formerly Health net's DS.
14:40 CDT 52miles/44miles to go
The riders are heading through the town of Defiance. There's a pretty nice crowd, but they're looking kind of defiant. Mike Creed was getting some assistance from the neutral support motorcycle - he held onto the mechanic's shoulder while the Mavic man worked on his bike.
They're now 5km to go for the KOM.
The leaders head through the feed zone and pick up their musettes, but they won't have long to snack. The KOM is just a few kilometres up the road. Fortunately, it's short, but it's very steep.
14:44 CDT 55miles/41miles to go
The leaders make the turn to head to the KOM - and they've got 1km to go to the top. Back in the field, the riders are picking up their lunch, just 2'30" behind the leaders.
14:48 CDT 56miles/40miles to go
Carlos Oyarzun goes for the climb once again - the Tecos rider is going to sweep the climbs for today's stage. He is followed over the line by Matej Mugerli (Liquigas) and Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team) with Frattini and Eisel bringing up the rear.
Mike Creed takes the lead in the break, trying to keep things going after that climb. They've managed to pull the break out to 2'50. The riders have their jerseys completely unzipped now, the heat and humidity starting to wear them down.
Ivan Dominguez is sitting at the back, not enjoying the climb that the peloton is speeding up at the moment. The road surface is beautiful - it looks as if it has been freshly paved just for the race.
Bryce Mead (Jelly Belly) is the latest rider to abandon. He climbed off in the feed zone. The gap has gone back down to 2'30" now that the peloton has stowed its lunch.
14:56 CDT 61miles/35miles to go
The peloton is making more ground now, just 2'15" behind the break as Dominique Rollin shovels some food into his mouth.
The roads are still undulating, but the hills are growing smaller and smaller as the race heads toward St. Charles. The winds have been gusty all day, but right now the riders are being sheltered from it by some nice tall trees.
Oyarzun is still driving the break, and getting a little more help now, but in the back of the group Rory Sutherland is looking quite relaxed. The situation in the peloton is a bit more intense - Garmin is in the lead, but they've lost Dan Holloway, who has been struggling all day. He abandoned the race.
Symmetrics has the bunch in a single file line now as we pass the town of O'Fallon. Outside of town some horses are startled by the ruckus caused by the passing peloton.
15:06 CDT 65miles/31miles to go
The work by Symmetrics has brought the gap to 2'10, knocking Jeff Louder out of the virtual yellow jersey.
Tom Zirbel (Bissell) was sitting in 8th overall but crashed on circuits yesterday. Kirsten Robbins found out what happened to him. "I smashed into the back of a Rabobank leadout guy who was pulling off," he said. "I lost 1 minute and now I'm in 11th. It was terrible timing."
The chase is being helped along by a tailwind right now, and the gap has plummeted to 1'45".
We also spoke with Garmin D.S. Chann McRae this morning, who is sure that Columbia will try something again today. "I don't think what we saw 2 days ago is going to be the last we see them racing aggressive.
"My team is feeling good. They are all motivated. After the stage 2 days ago they said that was the fastest race that any of them have ever ridden in this country. The feel like they've contributed a lot to the high speeds, they can race hard and fast. This team has a lot of experience, more now than ever and that will play into our favour."
Jeff Louder isn't happy about the way the break is (or is not) working together, and he puts in a big pull that actually gaps the rest of the group. He then looks back in disgust, unhappy that this break is starting to fall apart.
Now Mugerli attacks - he's marked by the Tecos rider Oyarzun.
There's a crash in the field...
Mugerli is going for it, and back in the field, there is chaos as a dozen riders have gone down. Chris Baldwin is up and riding, a Bissell rider is getting assistance, but there are bikes all over the road. No sign of who might be lying next to them.
The lead group is back together - barely. They're on a wide five lane road, and they're using every inch of it.
Back in the field, Dominique Rollin is getting a new bike after crashing, and a KBS rider is slowly rolling but his machine isn't working right.
Zwizanski is dropped from the break as they chase down the two riders, but the rest re-form into a tight paceline now that the chase from the field is disrupted by that crash.
David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) is one of the riders who is out of the race after that crash. He was wearing the most aggressive rider jersey. Keven Lacombe is the rider from that team who is chasing, but he' sin a lot of pain. He's got some road rash on his arm and leg, and he's struggling to ride.
The gap did indeed go out for our leaders with that wreck. It looks like most of the KBS team went down. Bajadali is covered in blood, but is chasing back with Candelario.
Jeff Louder is heading back for a bottle from the team car - he gets a little boost of speed before heading back up to the break and inserting himself into the paceline. They're working well together.
In the field, his teammate Mike Sayers has blood oozing from his left elbow and he's not too happy. This is his last race of his career, and it's not exactly the way he'd like to go out. He's riding, but slowly.
15:21 CDT 72miles/24miles to go
The leaders are now 1km from the final intermediate sprint, and they'll stay clear to fight that out.
As expected, Baumann attacks for the line. He doesn't even have to keep pedaling to take the maximum points, and indeed coasts his way over the line, which is on a slight downhill.
Louder and Van Emden take second and third, but did not contest the sprint, they merely rolled across in that order. The leaders are starting to think they can hold this gap to the finish - certainly Louder will be hoping they can.
Lacombe can't go on - he abandons the race, while Zwizanski is caught by the field, which is 1'55 back.
Baumann has pulled himself to within six points of Cavendish's lead in the sprint competition. Our KOM leader, Rollin, is back in the field with a new bike - he's not looking too banged up, and pats Ivan Dominguez on the back for helping him get back in.
The break is motoring now - they're 1'45" ahead of the field, but have the benefit of that tailwind. The field might just be playing a little cat and mouse with them, however. The Garmin team is still leading the field, but not chasing quite as hard as before. Just 27mph.
15:32 CDT 76miles/20miles to go
The field is slowly inching its way up to the break, now just 1'30" behind, and the pace is still steady, not furious. Behind the first two Garmin riders, Zabriskie and Pate, the field is bunched five wide.
Rory Sutherland heads back to the Health Net car to get a bottle. He looks as if the fun has stopped and he's getting serious about the work at hand. They're holding a minute and a half lead, but it's getting tougher and tougher as the field picks up its pace.
Eric Wohlberg ( Symmetrics) is in charge of the pace-setting in the field now. He's followed by Tyler Farrar - it's all Garmin and Symmetrics at the front.
Bad news for the Kelly Benefit Strategies team - Candelario and Bajadali are still chasing, along with Sayers, Baldwin and Luca Damiani (Colavita). It's going to be a hard 25km for these riders.
Fortunately, we're in a flood plain, so the roads are flat. And fortunate, too, that Ike isn't arriving today, or the riders might be swimming their way to St. Charles.
Eisel pulls through in the break, and as he looks around at his companions, he notices they're starting to struggle. They've got a cross-head wind now and they're starting an echelon - but it's rough going.
The peloton takes a hard right turn and now it's their chance to experience the fun of the cross-head wind.
Caleb Manion (Toyota) sits up out of the break - he can't take it anymore. The gap is 1'35.
15:43 CDT 82miles/14miles to go
Louder is doing a large part of the work in this break, and now has the wind right in his face. The road is turning back and forth into the wind, and it's easy to tell the direction by where the riders are sitting in the draft.
Manion is caught by the field. The breakaway is working well now, executing a smooth echelon rotation with 20km to go. Can they stay away? Louder hopes so - he'll move up a little on GC - probably not enough to get on the podium, but the prize money is higher for the better placed riders.
15:47 CDT 86miles/10miles to go
They're still on wide-open farm roads with no protection from the wind, and it's making it hard for the leaders to hold their gap. Fortunately, it's still all Garmin and Symmetrics chasing - they haven't gotten any help yet from the other teams.
The cross-wind has split the field, and a second group with Roman Kreuziger, the best young rider, is caught in the second group. They've got echelons going now - and you can just tell it's a suffer-fest out there.
The gap is down to 1'00 as they pull the team cars from behind the break.
15:52 CDT 87miles/9miles to go
The roads on the way to St. Charles are pancake flat - but the wind is playing havoc with our peloton and our breakaway. The gap is falling steadily, and it looks as if we will have a field sprint after all!
A large group of chasers has formed behind the break - 35 seconds back, and it contains some big names. 45" behind that group is the field, which is shattering.
George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish and Michael Barry (Team Columbia) with Christian Vande Velde and Thomas Danielson (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) are there...
And Eisel goes! Eisel has attacked the break and is trying to emulate his teammate Michael Barry's ride on stage four.
He's got 15 seconds on the break, which is in sight of the now re-formed peloton.
The leaders are sitting up as attacks fly from the field. Columbia is on the attack with Barry again.
15:58 CDT 90miles/6miles to go
The break is caught, and now the attacks will fly - Eisel has 10km to go but only a five second lead. Rory Sutherland is trying to stay clear of the peloton, but struggling.
Sutherland has given up, but Eisel puts his head down and keeps rolling. He's got 20 seconds on the field, which is trying to decide what to do.
We've got a Liquigas rider trying to go across to Eisel now.
It's Mugerli - he's been in the break all day, but isn't ready to quit yet!
16:02 CDT 92miles/4miles to go
Eisel is known more as a sprinter than a breakaway artists, but the Columbia team is so aggressive, they're just throwing anyone up the road who has the legs to do it.
Eisel is holding this gap... He's had success in the USA before - last year he won the Triple Crown in Philadelphia - he took the win in Lancaster and Reading.
The peloton is being warned that the final 3km has a concrete median - it could pose some danger for a field sprint, but they've been warned.
It's going to be close for Eisel - he's only got 20 seconds, and Mugerli was not able to make the bridge.
It's a slight downhill finish today, and if Eisel can't hold this, Cavendish is lying in wait near the front of the field, ready to pounce.
16:05 CDT 93miles/3miles to go
Eisel has sat up, and now we have a counter by another Columbia rider and a Liquigas rider.
Rabobank is chasing as Pinotti and Nibali are being caught... all together and Columbia is in control!
16:07 CDT 93.5miles/2.5miles to go
It's all Columbia all the time, with Cavendish well placed behind his team. Vande Velde is staying up there - he's right next to Cavendish.
16:07 CDT 94miles/2miles to go
They make a hard right and they've reached the concrete median with the final 2km. They are single file, so it's safe.
Jelly Belly is moving up their sprinters, and Garmin is sheltering Vande Velde.
16:08 CDT 94.5miles/1.5miles to go
Rabobank, feeling bolstered by the 1-2 yesterday, has their men up front, too.
The field gets split by the median at a turn - Bissell on one side, Columbia on the other.
Rabobank and Columbia are at the front as the two sides merge - And Rabobank goes!
Toyota is up there, too - and Cavendish tucked in, nearly invisible.
Cav looks big in the sprint, but he's actually not that tall, and he's hiding in the draft. A Rabo rider goes up on the sidewalk to move up!
Columbia is in control with 1km to go!
Health Net has a man up front, but where's Cavendish?
There's a hard right, and the sprint goes on a bend
Health Net leads it out with Rabo in third wheel...
But here comes Ivan Dominguez!
Out of the center, from out of nowhere, Cavendish blasts through.
Cavendish has another gear, and gets the win!
Dominguez drops his head, he's 2nd, and local hero Brad Huff takes third!
The Cuban Missile got disarmed by the Manx Express. He takes his third stage win here in Missouri, and pads his lead in the sprint classification.
Vande Velde is safe, and he gets a congratulations from last year's winner George Hincapie - it's likely he's won this Tour, with only a criterium to get through tomorrow.
Thanks for reading today, and be sure to tune back in tomorrow at 2pm local time, 3PM EDT/9PM CET for the grand finale, likely to be held under the tropical depression known as Ike - with howling winds and pouring rain. It'll be a challenging day for sure!
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