The first-ever professional bicycle race, the Tour of Missouri
will be held from border to border September 11th through 16th
throughout our great state.
The race has tremendous backing from the Missouri Department
of Tourism and from the state’s executive branch led by Gov.
Matt Blunt and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
The selling point is that on beautiful, and hopefully dry and
clear days in September, legions of professional racers will
roll through the streets and the countryside of one of the most
majestic states in the union and showcase Missouri to the rest
of the world.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, in his role as Chairman of the Missouri
Tourism Commission remarked, “The Tour of Missouri is an exciting
way to showcase our beautiful state. The entire state will be
surprised and pleased by the size and economic impact this event
will have on Missouri and Missouri’s tourism industry. This
race represents millions of additional dollars each year being
pumped into our larger cities and our smaller rural areas.”
The race begins at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and winds
up September 16th with an 11 race criterion in downtown and
mid-town St. Louis. Race organizers hope to finish the final
race at 4:30 p.m. in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel at historic
Union Station between the ending of the Rams home game and the
start of the Cardinals game at 6:05 p.m. All told, the racers
will cover 600 miles.
Recently announced were eight U.S. cycling teams, including
one featuring St. Louis native Dan Schmatz, competing in this
inaugural event. The field has six international teams including
teams from Europe and one from Canada.
Schmatz rides for the BMC cycling teams, which will join DaTeam
Slipstream, powered by Chipolte, Toyota United, Health Net presented
by Maxxis, Navigators, Colavita Oil/Sutter Homes, Jelly Belly
and the USA National team in the race.
Discovery Channel, Lance Armstrong’s former team, based in Austin,
Texas, (top team from the Tour de France) previously committed
to the race field. The Discovery Channel team includes Tour
de France champion Alberto Contador of Spain and American Levi
Leipheimer, the third-place finisher at that race. Also on the
Discovery Channel roster in Missouri are: pre-race favorite
and current U.S. National Champion George Hincapie of Greenville,
S.C.; 8th place Tour de France finisher Yaroslav Popovych of
the Ukraine; Tony Cruz of Long Beach, Calif.; 2007 3rd place
finisher of the Amgen Tour of California Jason McCartney of
Coralville, Iowa; up and coming U.S. star John Devine of Dixon,
Ill., and Fuyu Li, the first Chinese athlete to compete at the
elite Pro Tour level.
“We are really excited, Missouri will be able to show off its
top attractions—the Plaza in Kansas City, the University of
Missouri-Columbia; historic downtown Springfield, the Arch,
Union Station and Forest Park in St. Louis” says Steve Brunner,
principal of KOM Sports Marketing and national publicist for
“These people (the governor and lieutenant governor) have created
a good partnership and they have shown great leadership and
vision for our sport,” says Brunner. The tourism bureau kicked
in more than $1 million in sponsorship dollars.
Race promoters figure more than a half-million spectators will
watch various stages of the race, many coming from out-of-state.
All races are free of charge. What’s anticipated are many adjoining
after parties and promotional events. Several Missouri wineries
have gotten involved in sponsorships already.
Gov. Blunt is keen on this first-ever promotion.
“The Tour of Missouri will, as the name suggests, span the state
and bring tourists, visitors, cycling enthusiasts and of course
professional athletes here to Missouri. It will help bolster
our state’s tourism industry, which as everyone knows, is vital
to Missouri. It will provide Missouri with a great opportunity
to showcase Missouri’s beauty to the entire world,” says the
Mayor Francis Slay is another strong proponent of the event.
“St. Louis is excited to be part of this world class bicycle
race. We will be able to showcase our community to both the
national and international media. Not only does this event raise
awareness of bicycling as a means to better health and fitness,
it offers alternative transportation modes in an urban environment,”
Brent Hugh, executive director of the Missouri Bicycle Federation
calls it “a Super Bowl on Wheels.”
The race begins with an 85-mile loop around Kansas City. The
race resumes with a second stage from Clinton to Springfield,
a third in and around the Ozark Mountains at Branson and the
longest stage, the fourth, a 133-mile sprint from Lebanon to
Columbia, hugging the banks of the Lake of the Ozarks along
The fifth stage will take racers past the State Capitol in Jefferson
City and on to historic St. Charles and Lewis & Clark landmarks.
The sixth and final stage will be held inside the city limits
of St. Louis.
Cyclists will race 127 miles from Jeff City down Highway 94
through Missouri’s beautiful wine country, ending up at the
depot in St. Charles at the end of the Katy Trail in downtown
St. Charles. “Saint Charles is proud to be the site of the finish
for Stage Five of the Tour of Missouri,” says their mayor Patti
York. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to play a role in
this prestigious cycling event. We are great hosts and we look
forward to welcoming athletes and spectators from around the
country and the world to our city.”
This race is patterned after two major races Tour de Georgia
and Amgen Tour of California. The Missouri race is sanctioned
by USA Cycling and Union Cycliste International and is drawing
150 racers in 15 teams, competing for prize money around $115,000.
Sponsorship dollars will boost that pool to around $125,000.
Build-A-Bear Stores signed on as the first major sponsor of
the event. They plan to sell bears with a portion of the profits
going to Trailnet. Other sponsors are Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch,
AT&T, Drury Inns, Gateway Harley Davidson, O’Reilly Auto Parts
and Edward Jones Co.
St. Louis’ stage should be of interest, drawing hopefully 40,000
to 50,000 spectators along the routes. St. Louis has seven planned
circuits, each 11 miles in length. This is the shortest and
final stage of the race.
“The good news is, two of the top three teams in the World have
committed to riding in this race,” says Brunner. “I’ve personally
been involved in team racing since the 1990s and this is by
far one of the best organized races so far. The state and the
city have shown tremendous grass roots support and that all
lends itself to a successful event,” he says.