Liquigas’ Francesco Chicchi beat Mark Cavendish in the final bunch sprint in a shortened circuit race due to downed trees and flooding in St Louis after Hurricane Ike made its presence known overnight. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Chipotle) was third.
“I was behind the train of Columbia and I came around with 200 meters to go, I decided to launch my sprint because Toyota-United riders in front didn’t seem to want to launch it, so I launched with 200 meters. I probably surprised Mark going out so early with a headwind and that probably game me an edge. Fortunately for me, Mark was not able to come back on me. ” said Chicchi through a translator.
“Yeah a little bit. He was tremendously fast passed me. That’s the first time that someone has actually passed me in the sprint since March, so it was shocking, Francesco is really, really fast, what can I do? (laughs)” replied Cavendish when asked if he was surprised when Chicchi launched his sprint so early.
Flooding in St. Louis’ Forest Park due to the remnants of Hurricane Ike led race organizers to shorten the Stage Seven course. With streets wet at the beginning of the stage, Garmin-Chipotle’s focus was to bring Vande Velde safely to the finish and Columbia aimed for a bunch sprint finish for its ace sprinter Cavendish. But that didn’t stop riders from attacking from the start, like all the other stages. Finally, a break of two went up the road, Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) and kirk O’Bee (Health Net-Maxxis) worked together to stay away for much of the 53.2-mile (85.61 km) to be caught in the fifth and final lap with around 5 kilometer to go.
Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) and Kirk O’Bee (Health Net-Maxxis) escaped for most of the circuit race
Christian Vande Velde grabbed a hold of the leader’s jersey in the third stage, the individual time trial, and with the help of his Garmin-Chipotle team survived all attacks thrown at them from the Columbia team to win the overall general classification. A first for the argyle armada. Columbia’s Mick Rodgers was second and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) was third.
“Columbia started the race out Monday and Tuesday with Mark’s spirited wins, Wednesday turned things around a lot. Actually, I didn’t really expect to win the time trial but I really liked the course, it was a beautiful time trial down in the hills by the Ozarks. Then from there on, it was game on, it was a bug war with everyone trying to throw everything at us, trying to take away the 21 seconds that I had from the time trial and it was a great race. I was thinking about it today that I was happy that they did give us such a fight because it means that much more to win this week. ” said Vande Velde.
Cavendish won the Sprint jersey competion, Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) took the lead in the KOM competition after stage one and never let go. Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas) won the Best Young Rider classification and BMC’s Jeff Louder was voted the Most Aggressive Rider for his two long breakaways during the race.
BMC bookended its 2008 season with Most Aggressive jerseys at the Tour of California and now the Tour of Missouri. “For me, it really was an honor to race with these guys and trying to give them at least some run for their money, I just tried to be aggressive, it’s kind of the way that BMC has ridden all year, it’s good to go out like this for the season.” said Louder.
Full results here