At a press conference yesterday in Jefferson City, the Tour of Missouri announced this year’s host cities.
For the first time, the race will be run in a westerly direction, starting in St. Louis on September 7th and ending in Kansas City on September 13th:
- Stage 1 — St. Louis (Circuit Race) — 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 — 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 — 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 — In a remake 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 — 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 preevent 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.
“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 overall mileage for the course is expected to be more than 600 miles. 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.
Last year, the event drew more than 435,000 spectators over seven days. Missouri Tourism noted an direct and indirect economic impact of almost $30 million to the state.