Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12/19/07 - Tour of Missouri Pictures (finally...)

As some of you know, while driving cross-country from Nashville to Portland in September, I planned a stop in St. Louis for the final stage of the Tour of Missouri which just "happened" to be there while I was passing through. No, I'm not shallow enough to plan such an important trip around a bike race, but I wasn't upset when I finally saw that the race route coincided nicely with my itinerary.

So, I'm a little behind all the major cycling websites in reporting and releasing photos from this event - about 3 months late to be exact. But, you can't rush the kind of journalistic depth that you get from me. These things take time.

O.k., so the truth is it just took me this long to get my pictures developed and edited. Which leads me to the photo quality. They're not exactly Graham Watson or Casey Gibson; but I'd like to see what they would come up with if they had to use a Fujifilm disposable camera...not much better than this, I'll bet!

So, the first photo up there is the pack coming through the Start/Finish line, back together after several breaks had been chased down with a few laps to go. The format was a circuit race of 10 laps of 7.5 miles through St. Louis. The part of the course that I chose to watch the race from; near the Start/Finish and Sponsor/Team area offered easy watching from several locations and was a great experience. With a multi-lap event, there were plenty of opportunities to see the racers. Not quite as spectator friendly as a criterium, as the guys were taking about 20 minutes to a lap - but better than a traditional point-to-point road race where you see them once and it's over.

The access to the Team area was great. I was able to get up close to the team cars and bikes and closely examine the equipment. Being the gear junkie that I am, this was great. However, it kind of demystified the pictures you see at - as they apparently aren't that hard to get. However, I wasn't able to get too close to the Discovery guys - couldn't find them at all. I guess with the reigning Tour de France champion (Alberto Contador), reigning National Champion (Levi Leipheimer) and former National Champion and Tour of Missouri race-leader (George Hincapie) in attendance...they were probably trying to keep a low profile.

Team Toyota United had a pretty big set-up there, with a huge team bus much like you see the Euro teams using. And, I got to see a prototype Fuji being used by United's star sprinter, eventual winner of the day's stage, and eventual World Criterium Champion Ivan Dominguez. Fuji doesn't have a full-aero road frame in production currently...but look for something soon. This bike was fully outfitted with Dura Ace, Bontrager support components and the new Aeolus 5.0 wheelset - fast, light, and stiff enough for a super-power like Dominguez.

The team with arguably the most beautiful assortment of gear at the race was the Navigator's Insurance team and their assortment of Campagnolo and Stella Azzurra equipped Colnagos - some of the most beautiful machines on the planet. You want to be careful of taking that team vehicle through the McDonald's drive-thru though - that's an expensive mistake. Do that, or something like it, and it can cost you your job...or so I've heard. That said, I was trying to keep an eye out for a former co-worker, Chris G. who last I knew was wrenching for Navigators...but didn't see him. Chris, if you were there, I'm sorry I missed you.

Saunier Duval/Prodir's Scott Addict's w/ Sram Force @ the Start Line.
This one's for Neil. Anyone smell Mules? Where's Vino?
My favorite team, Slipstream, was in attendance. I can't wait to see what the "Argyle Armada"; who carries the standard for the new drug-free movement, will do in 2008!
One of two Mavic Service Course vehicles in attendance; with a roof full of Sram Rival equipped Cannondales. A couple of interesting facts: The bikes are equipped with toe-clips; not clipless pedals, so that a rider can use the bike regardless of what pedal system they use. The wheels are equipped with Sram cassettes as they're acceptably compatible with Campagnolo and Shimano groups. Each pair of Mavic Ksyrium ES wheels you see on and in the back of that car...with it's Sram Rival cassette and Michelin Pro 2 tires is worth about $1300. That's one valuable car...if you hear about Mavic missing any gear from the race, I had nothing to do with it...

I had arrived at the race about one hour early, which gave me time to look through the sponsor area and also watch the riders come and sign in - just like they show them doing at the big Euro races. The pictures didn't turn out all that great, but are not too bad for not having a "zoom" on my camera...

2007 Tour de France Champ, Alberto Contador. (Center w/ head bowed, white base-layer showing)
2007 Tour of Missouri Race Leader (eventual winner) and former U.S. National Champion, George Hincapie. (Yellow jersey, left of center) Sprinter Extraordinaire, Ivan "Cuban Missile Crisis" Dominguez would win today's stage. He would also go on to win the 2007 World Criterium Championships one month later in Las Vagas - which I also saw, but have no pictures... (Center in blue shorts, red/white striped jersey)
And finally, some racing action... Team Discovery Channel; in their last road-racing appearance, leads the chase of a breakaway near the start/finish with George tucked away and protected in yellow about 5 heads back.
The riders accelerate out of a corner about 1 km from the start/finish. They're bunched up here from the accordion effect of slowing slightly for the tight corner. Levi Leipheimer is 2nd wheel, George Hincapie is 6th
Fuzzy view of Levi Leipheimer in his crisp, new 2007 National Champion's jersey (2nd wheel) and George Hincapie in his Race Leader's Yellow Jersey (5th wheel) as they pull through on the back straight. What I would have given for autofocus and zoom...


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  2. Tour of Missouri had $26 million impact, $330k deficit in 2007

    A report that will be released by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) later this week will show the Tour of Missouri, a professional cycling event that traveled to cities throughout the state, had a $26 million impact on the state's economy in 2007....[continue reading here]

  3. MPN-

    Thanks for the link/comment. Great story.

    To put things in context, I'd also add this link from the Atlanta Business Journal ( which states that the Tour de Georgia - the race that the TOM is being compared to - has lost money most years of it's existence too; including it's first year.

    The stage races in Georgia and California have proven to be great successes for domestic racing and for their local business communities and provide a great road map to future success for the Missouri race and the growing Tour of Utah. However, we must remember to hold new races to the standard of established races comparable year and not the standard they have set now that they have momentum.

    My hope is that the other growing U.S. stage races will not struggle with the sponsorship troubles that the TdG has. Time will tell.



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