The Missouri Professional Cycling Series (MO PRO) returns top level national and international professional cycling to the streets of Missouri today, on Friday May 11th, 2012. The men’s and women’s professional field promises to bring the fastest show on two wheels to three signature neighborhoods in St. Louis City and County; the Delmar LOOP, the Forest Park Southeast GROVE and South St. Louis’ Dutchtown neighborhood.
The Missouri Professional Cycling Series is benefiting from an increase in the categorization of the Saturday, May 12th Tour de Grove to a UCI 1.2 sanctioned event and in the reduction of teams invited to the US’s largest professional cycling event, the Amgen Tour of California. Many of the top teams in the US have shifted their programs to compete in Missouri’s top professional event.
Event Director Mike Weiss stated, “We are incredibly excited about the caliber of athlete scheduled to race in St. Louis. We’re picking up where the Tour of Missouri left off and bringing a world class show to the streets of Missouri.”
The MO PRO weekend of races is anchored by the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar (NCC) Tour de Grove, which is also a stop on the prestigious USA Crits Championship Series. All of the races will feature outdoor Expos, amateur races, kid’s races as well as a 5K run on the Tour de Grove race course. Saturday’s Tour de Grove and Sunday’s Dutchtown Classic will both feature US Paralympic Hand Cycling events and recreational rides sponsored by Trailnet and the Missouri Bicycle Federation. To complement the excitement surrounding the competitive events, ARTCRANK a traveling cycling poster art show will be on display in the Grove neighborhood throughout the weekend, May 11th through 13th as well as the return of the whimsical Tour de Grove Saturday night Drag Races.
A snapshot of this year’s talent pool features nine men’s professional teams, including four that are also competing in the Amgen Tour of California. Competing against the top men’s professional teams will be over fifteen elite development teams from across the United States. Notable participants in this year’s event are Mt Khaks p/b Smartstop’s Luke Keough, 2011 USA Crits overall champion and winner of the Athens Twilight Crit, UnitedHealthcare’s Robert Förster, a winner of multiple stages in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta Espana and former Tour of Missouri Stage Winner and U-23 Dutch National Champion, Boy Von Poppel, Jelly Belly’s Brad Huff who just won the NCC Dana Point Grand Prix and Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home), winner of the SRAM Tour of the Gila criterium.
A quick survey of the start list shows national champions from Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Hungary as well as the winners of the Tour of Korea, Tour of Taiwan and the Herald Sun Tour.
The races. Beginning Friday evening, May 11th, under the lights, the LOOP de LOOP Grand Prix will light up the streets of one of the region’s best shopping, dining and entertainment districts. The neighborhood will come alive with outdoor expos, dining and children’s races.
The NCC and USA Crits Tour de Grove race will be held Saturday, May 12th. The course will be a 1.7 mile spectator friendly, winding circuit through the Grove neighborhood with a sprint finish along Manchester Avenue in front of the area’s restaurant and bar district. The professional men will complete 25 laps of this circuit for a 40+ mile race. The professional women will complete 18 laps for a 30+ mile race.
The day begins with the Tour de Grove 5K run and a recreational ride organized by TRAILNET. The racing will be underway late morning with an undercard of amateur races, increasing in ability as the day progresses. The men’s and women’s professional races will be preceded by children’s races and a US Paralympic Hand Cycling event. Viewing parties, a community Expo and neighborhood activities will be set up around the course. Following the races cyclist will return for an evening Street Sprints competition and an audience participation cruiser Drag Race. Adjacent to the race in The Grove will be a traveling national cycling poster show (ARTCRANK) at the Atomic Cowboy restaurant and bar running May 11th-13th.
Sunday, May 15th, the Dutchtown Classic features a challenging criterium circuit around the Dutchtown business district and Marquette Park. The Dutchtown Classic boasts a full schedule of amateur and professional racing, children’s races and a US Handcycling event.