Tour of Missouri

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Tour de France, the granddaddy of cycling races, has a big head start on the Tour of Missouri. Founded in 1903, the Tour de France attracts the world's best cyclists. When the first Tour of Missouri is staged in September, the world's No. 1 ranked team -- Team Discovery Channel -- will compete. It's the same team that supported Lance Armstrong through his seven-year reign as the Tour de France champion.

The six-day Tour of Missouri will begin in Kansas City and run through Springfield, Branson, Columbia and Jefferson City before ending in St. Louis. Cities along the route are making plans to become part of what has been called a "rolling festival."

In a recent talk to the Cape West Rotary Club, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau vowed the tour will include Southeast Missouri in future years.

Cycling traditionally has been a European sport, but last spring's Tour of Georgia race drew 600,000 spectators who spent an estimated $27.56 million.

The Tour of Missouri is still looking for a corporate title sponsor. Georgia didn't find one until a week before the race began. However that works out, the Tour of Missouri will put an invaluable international spotlight on the state.

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