KANSAS CITY — Cyclists in this year's Tour of Missouri will end the seven-day, 612-mile race by zipping around parts of downtown Kansas City seven times in a final circuit race.
Race supporters in Kansas City say they are thrilled that the race will end there on Sept. 13.
In the two previous years of the race, Kansas City was either the starting point or an early stage of the race that ended in St. Louis. This year's version will start with a circuit race in St. Louis on Labor Day.
That will be followed by three road stages from St. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau, Farmington to Rolla and St. James to Jefferson City. After a time trial in Sedalia, the race will finish with a stage from Chillicothe to St. Joseph and a final circuit race in Kansas City.
Organizers of the seven-day, 612-mile event on Thursday unveiled detailed routes for the race.
"The fact it's a circuit race is, from a spectator's standpoint, just outstanding," said Brad Schrock, chairman of the local organization committee. "A lot of times in a point-to-point race, like we've had in the past, the guys fly by, and in about 30 seconds, the caravan and riders are gone."
Organizers in Cape Girardeau are preparing for the biggest crowd in the town since former President Bill Clinton visited for a campaign rally in 1996. Assistant Police Chief Roger Fields said as many as 30,000 people are expected.
Last month, the Tour of Missouri was upgraded by international and national federations for cycling as one of the top five-ranked events outside Europe. It is one of only two such races in the U.S., with the other in California.
This year's race has attracted top pro tour teams Astana, Cervelo Test Team, Columbia-HTC, Garmin-Slipstream, Liquigas, Saxo Bank and Quickstep, all recent Tour de France teams.
Domestic teams participating in 2009 include BISSELL Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing, Colavita 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, also will ride.
The route announcement, made by Steve Brunner, sales director of King of the Mountain Sports, and Chuck Hodge, technical director for Medalist Sports, starts a publicity campaign aimed at building enthusiasm for the race.
In the next five weeks, announcements about rosters, the schedule for television broadcasts and details of local events tied to the race will be made, Brunner said.
Team rosters will be announced in late August.
Brunner promised that the team rosters will show how prominent the race has become in just three years. The 15 teams will each have eight riders competing.
"This is going to be one of the best fields ever assembled on North American soil," Brunner said.