St. Louis, MO - U.S. National Criterium Champion John Murphy of the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis took 9th place in the bunch sprint of the first stage of the 2009 Tour of Missouri Monday.

The entire 7.5-mile circuit in St. Louis was lined with fans. The finishing area, in the heart of downtown, was six deep people getting a good look at the fast-moving peloton.

"We wanted to be attentive today, but also race intelligently," said team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "The sprint was pretty chaotic, with everyone fighting for wheels. Murphy did a good job."

Bradley White of OUCH Presented by Maxxis waited until the final lap of the race to get in his first break of the week. White jumped off the front in the closing kilometers along with Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) in an attempt to upset the rhythm of the sprinters' teams but at that late stage, they weren't given too much leash.

"Brad made a nice read and countered a move that had just been brought back," Tamayo said. "But Columbia-HTC and Cervelo were highly motivated for a sprint finish, so that move was going to be a long-shot to succeed."

The Columbia-HTC-led peloton brought back the duo with 5 km to go, and set up the bunch sprint, taken by their sprint ace Mark Cavendish on the slightly uphill finish.

"It was a good start to the week," Tamayo said. "The crowds were incredible. When you see support like that, you want to try to put on a bit of a show for them. Brad attacking near the end definitely put a bit of a charge into the late part of the race. Everyone was expecting a sprint, everyone was expecting Cavendish to take it. We just didn't want to make it a foregone conclusion."

The race continues today with a 112-mile run from St. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau.

Photo: Jonathan Devich