Three Heartland cities to host leg of Tour of Missouri

By Heartland News
Tour of Missouri announced host cities Tuesday. Three Heartland towns will play host to the cross state professional cycling race.
Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, and Farmington will host a leg of the tour. 
See the press release below for more information.
Third Annual Elite Pro Cycling Race Takes Place September 7-13
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - (January 27, 2009) --- Event organizers and Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder today announced the start and finish host cities and the overall course for the third Tour of Missouri professional cycling race, scheduled for September 7-13, 2009.
The following cities will play host to a leg of the Tour: St. Louis, St. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, Farmington, Rolla, St. James, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Chillicothe, St. Joseph, and Kansas City.
"We had a record amount of cities inquire about the Tour of Missouri," said Lt. Governor Kinder. "It is a testament to the success of the race. We faced a very difficult process of eliminating some great cities. Our commitment, however, is to continue to route the course to all areas of the state. This year, for the first time, we will visit the southeast part of Missouri while spending a longer time north of Interstate 70. In addition, we will be able to highlight some of the agricultural regions."
The overall course will take on a very different slant in 2009. For the first time, the race will route east to west, starting in St. Louis and finishing in Kansas City. The past two years, the race routed west to east starting in Kansas City to finish in St. Louis. Stage by stage courses will be announced at a later date.
"In keeping with tradition, we will change the course from year to year to keep it fresh," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of event organizers Medalist Sports of the Atlanta area. "There will be new drama on the race route and we expect a few more hills. Overall, we have some great and very excited host cities."
The race will be contested over seven days and seven stages. There will be two circuit races (St. Louis, Kansas City), one individual time trial (Sedalia), and four point to point road races (St. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau; Farmington to Rolla; St. James to Jefferson City; Chillicothe to St. Joseph).
"I like what they've done," said 2008 Tour of Missouri champion Christian Vande Velde, an American who also finished fourth overall at last year's Tour de France. "It's a totally different race course and it looks like they've added some challenging terrain. Last year's race was very fast and tougher than it looked on paper. I look forward to coming back with my Garmin teammates to defend my title."
Added Tyler Hamilton, the current U.S. Professional Champion and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, who attended Tuesday press conference: "I missed this race last year but I heard nothing but great things. I heard it was deceivingly tough. If you look at the past two winners (George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde) only ‘strong men' have won this race, which means the course is quality. From what I know, the terrain in Missouri is a lot like central France."
The overall mileage for the course is expected to be more than 600 miles. Vande Velde and his team Garmin-Slipstream is the first announced team. More teams will be announced in the spring.
Though a stellar world-class field was presented last year, the three-year-old race is expected to be event better as the Tour of Missouri was granted an upgrade to one of the top five-ranked events outside Europe by international and national federation's for cycling last month. The upgrade will likely draw more pro tour teams to the event, which featured three last year in Garmin, Columbia and Liquigas.
Also announced was a partnership between the Tour of Missouri and The Gateway Cup in St. Louis, the largest amateur cycling event for road cycling in the country. The Gateway Cup will feature four days of racing by more than 1,100 competitive amateur cyclists. These four days of racing will lead into the Tour of Missouri women's professional criterium, and culminate with the professional men's event.
"The Gateway Cup group has been great to work with. We felt the partnership between the Tour of Missouri and the Gateway Cup could only grow the brand and give our core audience a chance to race and then see the best riders in the world," said Steve Brunner, President of KOM Sports Marketing, the event's marketing arm that works with Medalist Sports. "It's going to be a blockbluster weekend for cycling enthusiasts Labor Day in St. Louis." 
The Tour of Missouri also announced the premier sponsorships of Farm Bureau of Jefferson City, Emerson of St. Louis as well as founding partners Drury Hotels and Edward Jones, both of St. Louis
"It is a testament to the success of this event, as well as to the value it brings to sponsors, to name these outstanding Missouri companies and entities which are renewing their support for the Tour," said Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. "Since the inaugural race in 2007, this event has consistently delivered a positive economic impact to Missouri, and invaluable recognition throughout the state, country and the world to our sponsors."
Last year, the event drew more than 435,000 spectators over seven days. Missouri Tourism noted a direct and indirect economic impact of almost 30 million to the state.
The event is sanctioned by USA Cycling, the national federation for cycling in the United States, and the Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body for the sport of cycling.
CONTACTS:            Gary McElyea, State of Missouri, 573-751-1088
                        Priscilla Visintine, Tour of Missouri, (314) 422-5646
Synopsis of stages (individual courses announced in summer)
Stage 1 / St. Louis / Circuit Race (Labor Day)
A flat urban circuit race through the heart of Missouri's largest metropolitan area. St. Louis has hosted two overall finishes and now will host the start for the first time.
Stage 2 / St. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau / Road Race
Starting in the southeastern wine country, St. Genevieve will play host to its first stage of the Tour. The city is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi. Cape Girardeau, the sixth largest city in the state, plays host to its first stage of the Tour. Terrain is rolling hills near the Mississippi River.
Stage 3 / Farmington to Rolla / Road Race
The agricultural community of Farmington plays host to its first stage of the Tour. The course will route through some of the hilliest spots of Missouri and through the Mark Twain National Forest en route to Rolla, which played host to a stage of the tour in 2008. Riders will face longer and tougher climbs on this route than in any previous Tour of Missouri.
Stage 4 / St. James to Jefferson City / Road Race
In a re-make of Stage 5 of last year's race, riders will roll out of St. James in the central wine region en route to the state's capital in Jefferson City. Jefferson City has played host to a start in 2007 and a finish in 2008. The terrain is rolling.
Stage 5 / Sedalia / Individual Time Trial
The Tour makes its first stop in the agricultural hub of Sedalia, which also annually plays host to the Missouri State Fair. Cyclists will race against the clock in what is expected to be a mostly flat course.
Stage 6 / Chillicothe to St. Joseph / Road Race
The small town of Chillicothe will play host to its first stage as cyclists will face a moderately flat start while moving into short steep hills toward the finish at St. Joseph. Chillicothe is the home of ‘sliced' bread. St. Joseph, the fifth largest city in the state, will play host to its first tour finish after playing host to the overall start last year.
Stage 7 / Kansas City / Circuit Race
Kansas City has played host to the finish of the first stage the past two years, and hosted teams longer than any other with two years of pre-event activities. Roles reverse as Kansas City become the overall finish of the 2009 Tour. Like St. Louis on the front end, a spectator friendly circuit race is expected. The circuit, however, could feature several of the noted short steep or long gradual hills in Missouri's largest city.