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Garmin-Slipstream will field a tough-to-beat team at the Tour of Missouri, set to begin in St Louis on September 7. Defending champion Christian Vande Velde will arrive on top form and he can rely on his teammate David Zabriskie as the second card to play in the overall classification.
An outstanding 2008 season saw Vande Velde place fourth in the Tour de France as the highest placed American. He capped off the season by capturing the overall title at the Tour of Missouri, placing 18-seconds ahead of Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) and now team-mate Svein Tuft, who was racing for the Canadian-based Symmetrics team.
This year Vande Velde is in good shape despite recently crashing at Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany where team-mate Tyler Farrar went on to victory. According to team owner Jonathan Vaughters, Vande Velde should be fully recovered by Missouri’s start.
“Vande Velde is finally healthy,” said Vaughters. “He crashed again in Hamburg and he’s had some tough luck this year. But, I think he’s healthy and ready and I think he’ll be good.”
Zabriskie proved he is on good form winning his fourth consecutive USPro Championship title in the time trial last weekend in Greenville, South Carolina. The pair of overall contenders will compliment each other over the Tour of Missouri’s tough seven stages.
“It’s between Christian and Dave as to who is the GC rider at Missouri,” Vaughters said with confidence in both rider’s capability of winning. “They will have to see who has the better legs or how that progresses over the race.”
The Garmin-Slipstream line up is well suited to the race's newest addition - a flat time trial held on stage five in Sedalia which replaced the hillier circuit in Branson. The roster includes Vande Velde and Zabriskie along with Jason Donald, Tim Duggan, Danny Pate, Mike Friedman, Will Frischkorn and Steven Cozza.
“It’s a flatter time trial course than in previous years,” Vaughters said. “As far as our team goes it’s suited to Zabriskie and less suited to Vande Velde. In terms of the overall, the Branson course was super interesting but this is more of a pure time trialist’s course and we have a few of those on our team.”
When asked if the Tour of Missouri has held its stature as a race suited to view up and coming domestic talents, Vaughters said: “Our roster is mainly done for next year, but you never know. Tuft had an excellent ride in Missouri last year and that was the final straw to take him on the team”.
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