All teams now announced for September race

TOUR OF MISSOURI


KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Team Garmin-Chipotle of the United States and Team Liquigas of Italy---two top-performing entrants from the recently completed Tour de France---head a list of 13 teams that have been added for the Tour of Missouri world-class cycling event, September 8th - 14th, throughout the Show Me State.

"We will be back to win," said Jonathan Vaughters, director of the Garmin-Chipotle team, which competed successfully in last year's race with the team title, second overall finisher (Will Frischkorn), and stage winner (Danny Pate). "This is not an end-of-the-season fun race for us. This is a serious objective for our team. It's a major event." The team is expected to bring many riders from their Tour de France team.

HealthNet presented by MAXXIS , the top team on America's pro circuit the past four years, along with up and coming teams BMC and Rock Racing , head the list of top U.S.-based squads added, along with Bissell , Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light , Jelly Belly , and Kelly Benefits Strategies-Medifast .


Mexico's top professional team Tecos and Canada's best squad Symmetrics , along with top European continental squads from Rabobank of the Netherlands and Sparkasse of Germany will participate. Rabobank is a top European-based club with both a Tour de France-level team and a younger development squad. Their development squad will be represented at Missouri.

All teams join the previously-announced participation of the world's top team, Columbia , which will be led by the race's defending-champion George Hincapie; and Toyota-United , which will be led by their star sprinter Ivan Dominguez, who won two stages at last year's Tour of Missouri, and Dominque Rollin, who placed third overall last year.

"Athletes from around the world will come to race in Missouri," said Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder. "Last year, they experienced great weather, great crowds, and were welcomed by big and small cities alike. We look forward to playing host to them all again in September."

"Without doubt, this is a deeper field than last year," said Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of event organizers Medalist Sports. "We have three teams that played major roles at the Tour de France this year. We have all the top clubs in North America, and two top European continental teams that will surely be hungry. It is an interesting and talented mix."

The seven-day race starts in St. Joseph and routes to Missouri's largest town Kansas City with a relatively flat stage. Stage 2 will be a flat stage from Clinton to Springfield, which saw the decisive breakaway that launched Hincapie into the overall lead, which he kept the remainder of the race. Stage 3 is a decisive individual time trial around the mountains in the tourist mecca of Branson.

Stages 4, 5, and 6 all will be hilly and play a role in the overall outcome of the 623-mile race, according to race director Jim Birrell. Stage 4 will start in Lebanon and route to first-time host city Rolla in central Missouri. The stage, which is on September 11th, will route through Fort Leonard Wood Military Reservation to honor and acknowledge American troops. Stage 5 will go from the wine-country town of St. James to finish in Missouri's capital of Jefferson City. Stage 6 starts in another wine-country town Hermann and routes to the historic river city of St. Charles. The race will culminate with a circuit race through the urban landscape of St. Louis and finish in front of City Hall in the shadows of the Gateway Arch, the back drop to last year's finale.

"We have a unique blend of teams," said Birrell. "The way the course is designed, it will take a very high-caliber athlete to win. We could see a few more lead changes than last year. With three top teams from the Tour de France and all the top teams in North America, there will be a lot of good wheels to follow."

Organizers will announce the top riders later this month after the Olympic Games in Beijing. Numerous cyclists racing in Beijing will participate at the Tour of Missouri, a unique opportunity for spectators to see Olympic athletes immediately after an Olympic Games.

Last year's event drew a police-estimated 365,000 spectators over six days and provided $26.2 million of direct and indirect economic benefit for the state and its host cities.

"This event proved, in only its first year, to be hugely successful for all involved, most importantly the great host communities of the Tour," Lieutenant Governor Kinder, chair of the Tourism Commission of Missouri. "It was very successful for the state as a tourism vehicle as people from 73 countries caught part of the event via live webcasts and people from 21 states came into Missouri to see the event."

Missouri Tourism is the presenting sponsor of the event. Top level sponsors include Anheuser-Busch (and their Michelob ULTRA brand), Drury Hotels, Emerson, Edward Jones, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Wine and Grape Board, Cerner and Monsanto.

Final List of Teams for 2008:
Columbia (USA)
Liquigas (Italy)
Rabobank (Netherlands)
Garmin-Chipotle (USA)
BMC (USA)
Sparkasse (Germany)
Tecos (Mexico)
Symmetrics (Canada)
Health Net presented by MAXXIS (USA)
Toyota-United (USA)
Rock Racing (USA)
Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light (USA)
Bissell (USA)
Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast (USA)
Jelly Belly (USA)