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Bike race riding into Columbia

Friday, February 9, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:49 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Columbia has been named an official host city for the Tour of Missouri bicycle race.

“I can tell that Missouri is in for a huge event,” said Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. She represented Columbia at Thursday’s Tour of Missouri news conference in Kansas City. “It’s a perfect fit for Columbia.”

The tour, which is scheduled for mid-September, will begin in Kansas City and end in St. Louis six days later. As it stands, cyclists would begin the fourth leg of the race in Lebanon and finish it at the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia.

The race will also pass through Clinton, Springfield, Branson, Jefferson City and St. Charles. Tour field crews are working now to define the route that will connect the dots between the cities. Tour organizers hope to announce a complete and final route by May.

Jim Birrell, race director for Medalist Sports, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder named the nine host cities during the news conference. Kinder said it would be “the largest sporting event in our state’s history.”

The Columbia City Council has yet to approve a $60,000 fund reallocation that will be necessary before the city can host the event. While that might make Thursday’s announcement seem premature, the shifting of money appears to have strong council support. A vote on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 19.

“I would expect the council to vote in favor of the tour,” said Mayor Darwin Hindman, who plans to vote in support of funding the tour.

Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe also said they plan on voting to bring the tour to Columbia.

“I think there’s strong support on the council,” Janku said. “I definitely think it will come here.”

Hoppe said she sees no reason to disapprove. The $60,000 would come from the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s unreserved fund balance.

“It’s coming from funds already designated for tourism and bringing people to Columbia,” Hoppe said. “My inclination would be to approve it. That’s what those funds are for.”

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