Defending Champion Christian Vande Velde and Time Trial Champion David Zabriskie Confirmed for Tour of Missouri
American Christian Vande Velde, last year’s race champion and eighth-place finisher at this years’ Tour de France and four-time U.S. National Champion in the time trial David Zabriskie, will look to defend the race title for Garmin-Slipstream at this year’s Tour of Missouri, scheduled for September 7 – 13, 2009.
“Christian is a great and worthy champion, and one of the top cyclists in the world,” said Jim Birrell the Tour of Missouri’s race director. “It’s great to welcome him back and his teammate David Zabriskie, of whom we believe the overall course favors. The Garmin-Slipstream team will again field a great team and have progressed into one of the world’s top teams. A great sign for American cycling.”
In addition to Vande Velde and Zabriskie, Garmin-Slipstream also named Steven Cozza of the United States as part of the team. Cozza was the Best Young Rider at the 2007 Tour of Missouri and has showed well in the race the past two years. A total team roster will be announced later this month.
“The Tour of Missouri is a great American cycling race,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of the Slipstream team. “As an American team, we are proud to not only participate but to defend Christian’s title.”
Vande Velde finished eighth in the Tour de France only seven weeks after a severe crash at the Tour of Italy, where he fractured seven bones, including five vertabrae, a testament to his fortitude and abilities. Zabriskie performed very well in the Tour de France and was second overall last February in America’s other major race, the Amgen Tour of California. Zabriskie has won four national titles in the individual time trial and remains the only American to win a stage of the Tours de France, Italy and Spain. The only time trial for the Tour of Missouri will be in Sedalia, Friday, September 11th and may play a determining factor in the overall selection of the race.
“I am looking forward to defending my title at the Tour of Missouri. It was a great experience for me and my Garmin teammates last year,” said Vande Velde. “It’s a very well-organized and promoted race. And, being so close to my home in Chicago, I will be able to race in front of a lot of family and friends. This is the first major international stage race ever in the Midwest so I want to see it do well.”
The image of Vande Velde has been featured on numerous marketing materials for the race including advertisements, billboards, television advertising, posters, hero cards, and even on more than 1.5 million phone books through an arrangement with sponsor AT&T.
“We thought Christian was the perfect poster boy for the race,” said Steve Brunner, the director of marketing for the Tour of Missouri. “Not only was he the 2008 race winner but a great rider who has additional regional appeal because he comes from nearby Chicago.”
The race begins in St. Louis on Monday, September 7, Labor Day, with a 10-lap, 75-mile circuit race that will be fast and flat and favor a sprinter taking the leader’s jersey. On Tuesday, September 8, the race will transfer south to Ste. Genevieve with a 112.4-mile road race to Cape Girardeau. The terrain is hilly to moderate and features finishing circuits.
On Wednesday, September 9, cyclists will face their toughest challenge of the race, with a hilly 114.3-mile stage in the Northern Ozark Mountains from Farmington to Rolla. After a short transfer on Thursday, September 10, the race will proceed from St. James to Jefferson City, with the circuit finish featuring a steep 300-meter uphill sprint to the finish.
Riders will be able make up time Friday, September 11, during the individual time trial at Sedalia with a 19-mile race against the clock around Missouri’s State Fairgrounds. On Saturday, September 12, cyclists will race from Chillicothe to St. Joseph while hitting moderate to hilly terrain.
The weeklong journey through the Show-Me-State concludes with a hilly circuit through the streets of Kansas City, Sunday, September 13. The Kansas City circuit will feature two king of the mountain points with more than 2,000 feet of climbing over 72 miles.
The upgrade has drawn top pro tour teams Astana, Cervélo TestTeam, Columbia- HTC, Garmin- Slipstream, Liquigas, Saxo Bank and Quickstep, all recent Tour de France teams, of which won 14 of 21 stages of the world’s biggest race. Domestic teams participating in 2009 include BISSELL Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing, Colovita / Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefit Strategies, OUCH presented by Maxxis, and Team Type 1. Canada’s top team Planet Energy rounds out the field.
Previously announced were superstars of the sports, including Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 10-time Tour de France stage winner and wildly considered the world’s best sprinter; 2007 Tour of Missouri champion George Hincapie; three-time world champion Mick Rogers of Australia, all of team Columbia-HTC; Norway’s Thor Hushovd, the sprint jersey winner of this year’s Tour de France and Cervelo TestTeam member Heinrich Haussler, a stage winner at the this year’s Tour de France; Italy’s Franco Pellizotti of the Liquigas-Cannondale team, the 2009 Tour de France KOM Champion and Australia’s Rory Sutherland of Team OUCH, and the top ranked rider on the domestic circuit. Top five-ranked team Saxo Bank, Astana and QuickStep will announce their top riders next week.
The race will be contested over seven days and seven stages. There will be two circuit races (St. Louis, Kansas City), one individual time trial (Sedalia), and four point to-point road races (Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau; Farmington to Rolla; St. James to Jefferson City; Chillicothe to St. Joseph). Other team rosters will be announced this month. The race is sanctioned by USA Cycling and UCI, the international governing body for the sport.