Thousands of fans lined the streets of downtown St. Louis to watch Team Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde cross the finish line safely and win the 2008 Tour of Missouri. Vande Velde, winner of Stage Three's Individual Time Trial, was awarded the Missouri Tourism Yellow Jersey for the race after successfully maintaining an 18-second lead over Michael Rogers of Team Columbia who finished second in the General Classification. Svein Tuft of Symmetrics rounded out the podium in third place.



"It's been a really great race from day one," said Vande Velde, who finished fifth in the 2008 Tour de France. "I didn't expect to win the time trial, but from then on, it was game on with everyone throwing everything at us, trying to take away the 21-second gap I had from the time trial. In the end, I was happy that everyone gave us such a fight because the win means that much more to us."



Fans in St. Louis also witnessed a tremendous sprint to the finish in the last kilometer of the race with riders from Teams Columbia, Sparkasse and Liquigas fighting for position. Francesco Chicchi of Liquigas found his way to the front and sprinted by Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish for the Stage Seven victory. Tyler Farrar of Team Garmin-Chipotle came in third.


Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) wins bunch sprint beating Mark Cavendish (Columbia) for the final stage win

"When it came around to about 200 meters to go, I decided to launch my sprint," said Chicchi." I think I surprised Mark coming out so early. Due to the head wind, I probably got a little edge on him." Chicchi had been knocking on the door of a stage victory with third place finishes in Stages One and Two.

Although he was edged out of winning his fourth stage of this race, Cavendish will take home the sprint crown as the Edward Jones Sprint jersey winner. Dominique Rollin of Toyota-United will wear the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain competition for the Tour. Rollin took the lead in the KOM competition after stage one and never relinquished it. Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas won the THF Realty Best Young Rider jersey for the week. Jeff Louder was voted the Drury Hotels Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for the Tour.


Sprint jersey winner Mark Cavendish (Columbia) throws his flowers to an appreciate crowd; KOM winner Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) enjoys a Michelob Ultra beer


BMC's Jeff Louder was named Most Aggressive Rider for the Tour of Missouri; Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas) won the Best Young Rider jersey

Flooding in St. Louis' Forest Park led race organizers to shorten the Stage Seven course. However, the rain gave way to partially sunny skies and a spirited day of racing. While Team Garmin-Chipotle rode conservatively with a primary focus on Vande Velde's safe passage as race leader, the rest of the field chased a two-man break for much of the 53.2-mile (85.61 km) ride. The duo couldn't hold on as they were eventually caught by a fast and furious peloton, eager to grab a stage win. In pursuit of the finish line, Chicchi was able to get the jump on his competitors to capture the Tour's final stage.


The only break of the day was made up of Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) and Kirk O'Bee (Health Net-Maxxis)


Team Columbia leads the peloton


Team Columbia won the team classification

All photos copyright Lyne Lamoureux