For the third year in a row a week-long professional cycling stage race has come to Missouri. This year the race begins in St. Louis and traverses the state east-west, the opposite of past years. The race takes in its share of countryside, but today was a circuit of St. Louis City, taking in Union Station, Busch Stadium, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Soulard and Lafayette Square.
Tomorrow the race moves on to St. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau and eventually ends in Kansas City September 13. The race receives coverage all over the world and is a great way to show of St. Louis. For those of you on Twitter check out the all the pros twittering (click on “following”). You can follow every stage of the Tour of Missouri live on-line at UniversalSports.com.
With past races in St. Louis coming on the final day of the Tour there’s been a fight for the sprint jersey and final overall winner. But the always decisive time trial, and a few hilly stages, don’t come until later this year. So today was a pretty straightforward bunch sprint with Columbia-HTC controlling the day for the fastest man in the world, Mark Cavendish. And early break was established but never gained more than two minutes on the peleton and was reeled in with more than one 7.5mile lap remaining. Only a wreck in the last few hundred meters just behind the sprinters upset a predictable day.
Predictable or not, it’s a huge thrill to see professional cycling in St. Louis. However, I do hope that the race returns to its original west-east running. The best thing about the race ending in St. Louis, other than getting to see a stage finish in St. Charles the day before, was crashing the after-race party! You never know who you may run into (for those who don’t know, the guy on the right in the first pic is very, very, very fast).
A big “thank you” goes out to our Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who soaked up at least part of the race around Lafayette Square, the Missouri Division of Tourism all the sponsors and volunteers. The Tour is a big money earner for the state. While the event does require resources, it returns several times as much in added revenue to hotels, restaurants and other places. Let’s hope that St. Louis and Missouri continue to put on a world-class race for many years.