Tour of Missouri: The course

Friday, August 31, 2007 | 3:21 p.m. CDT; updated 12:42 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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The upcoming Tour of Missouri features six stages that show off the best of Missouri’s urban and rural settings. The tour is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Sept. 11 in Kansas City’s famed Plaza District.

Stage 1 takes riders north through the countryside before returning to the city for three circuits, or laps, that will show off the top cyclists in the world sprinting toward the finish with the Kansas City fountains in the background. The first stage is 85 miles long and is expected to end between 4 and 5 p.m.

Stage 2 begins at 11 a.m. Sept. 12 in the west-central town of Clinton and extends 125.6 miles south to Springfield, including two circuits of the city. The riders will travel over generally flat land before arriving in Springfield between 3:33 and 4:47 p.m.

Stage 3 on Sept. 13 is an 18-mile individual time trial that takes place in Branson. The Branson stage is an uphill battle, with cyclists climbing a trail to an altitude of 1,300 feet. The time trial begins at 11 a.m., and the riders are expected to finish just before 2 p.m.

Stage 4 features rolling hills next to forests, cornfields and livestock. Its beauty is matched by its difficulty, however, as the route is packed with climbs. One of the most challenging stretches in this area is the series of inclines along Route Y east of Ashland, from New Bloomfield to Rangeline Road. While the hills of southern Boone County might pale in comparison to the French Alps of the Tour de France, the repetition of half-mile climbs can be wearisome.

“That’s the terrain Missouri can offer that they can’t get in other races,” said Barry Bennett of the lieutenant governor’s office, which is helping promote the race.

After Route Y, the cyclists are rewarded with a relatively flat ride past Columbia Regional Airport. They’ll continue north to New Haven Road, go west across U.S. 63 and then head north on Rock Quarry Road.

The final sprint includes a hard left from College Avenue onto Walnut Street, where a comfortable four lanes turn into two as the riders race for the finish. They are expected to arrive between about 3 and 4:30 p.m.

Stage 5 begins at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 15 at the state Capitol in Jefferson City and finishes in St. Charles after a trek of 126.6 miles. Cyclists will get a taste of Missouri’s wine country, passing by Hermann, Augusta and Washington.

Stage 6, the final leg, on Sept. 16 will be a circuit race in St. Louis. The riders will complete seven laps that are a little more than 10 miles each for a total of 74 miles. All the laps begin and end at Union Station, where the winner of the first Tour of Missouri will be crowned. The riders are expected to finish between 3:39 and 4:05 p.m.

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