Area cycling enthusiasts to witness race

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

John Dodd uses basketball to explain the significance of the Tour of Missouri.

"It's like having Michael Jordan come play basketball in your driveway," he said.

The Tour of Missouri bicycle race, which starts today, features 15 elite teams and some of the top competitors in the sport. The 2007 Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador, will compete for the Discovery Channel team. Dodd, who owns Cycle Werx in Cape Girardeau, plans to attend the time trial in Branson on Thursday,

"I just want to see it in person, seeing the top riders right in front of you in your own backyard," he said. "That's a pretty big honor. They are riding on roads people in Missouri ride on. They are right there where you ride."

Renate Deblois, a cycling fan from Cape Girardeau, will get an up-close view of the Tour on Friday when she serves as a course marshal.

"I thought it would be really cool to see these European and American top cyclists actually riding by," she said.

While Deblois and Dodd will travel to see the action, they agree they'd prefer the race came to Cape.

"I hope in the future they would come to Cape Girardeau," Deblois said. "I think it would promote cycling in general and enhance tourism."

Dodd said he'd hoped Cape would be included in the inaugural race, but he questioned how much greater the impact would be on generating cycling excitement in the area if the race came through Cape.

"I think it will have almost the same impact as it is," he said. "I think the biggest challenge is getting people to realizes what it is. There's a bicycle race coming through here. It's not just a bicycle race, it's one of the premier bicycle races in the world. It would be like having the St. Louis Cardinals come play at Capaha Field. This is one of three races like this in the United States."

The closest this year's Tour comes to Cape Girardeau is St. Louis, but for hard-core cycling fans, a short road trip is worth it to catch some of the action.

"These are some of the best you will see," Dodd said.

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