Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde carried his post Tour de France form into St. Louis Sunday, winning the week-long Tour of Missouri as Liquigas sprinter Francesco Chicchi beat triple stage winner Mark Cavendish of Team Columbia to take Stage 7.
The final stage of the Tour of Missouri, a circuit race around St. Louis, was more of a parade than a full race, as remnants of Hurricane Ike drenched the city overnight, leaving part of the course unusable. However, the shortened stage was still a fight for bragging rights as to who was fastest in the midwest, with Cavendish the man to beat. Despite a perfect lead-out from his team, the final 200 metres were a little too difficult for him to hold the front and an opportunistic Chicchi jumped around him for the win. Safely back in the field Vande Velde rode into the finish for the overall win.
"We started on the train of Columbia; Mark didn’t seem to want to launch the sprint so I did," Chicchi said. "I think I might have surprised Mark coming out to sprint that early due to the headwind. I got the edge on him and very fortunately Mark couldn’t come back around me. I was very lucky to have beaten Mark today."
"He flew past me tremendously," Cavendish admitted. "It’s the first time someone’s gone past me in a sprint since March. So you know, it was shocking... but Francesco is really fast so what can I do?"
Cavendish admitted that the final straight was the deciding factor and that he jumped too early. "I told they guys that they had to lead me as far as they could to the line because there was a massive headwind," he said. "I told them to deliver me as late as possible and I ended up coming off the wheel too early. Chicchi came past me at such speed that I had to eat my words a little bit. I was passed... I was beaten and that’s that. It’s upsetting after the work the team has done for me. They did a tremendous lead out."
Cavendish kept his sprint jersey, while Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) won the KOM competition. The best young rider of the race was Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) while Jeff Louder (BMC) was named most aggressive rider for the week thanks to his long breakaway rides on stages four and six.
For a complete report with results and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.