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Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage six of the Tour of Missouri. Today's penultimate stage runs from Chillicothe to St. Joseph over 110.3 mi. (177.4 km). It'll be a winding stage with some steep climbs. We no longer have a commentator email, but we still want to hear from you. You can post feedback in our forum at http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=3398.
The riders are gathering on the start line here in Chillicothe, Missouri. Today is the second to last day of racing in the 2009 Tour of Missouri. Our jersey holders are getting called up now.
Today's stage kicks off, under bright and sunny skis and 80-degree temperatures (degrees Fahrenheit), with a 6.3km neutral section.
Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) is our race leader after yesterday's stage five time trial. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) holds the points lead while Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) is our mountains leader. Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) is the best young rider.
The most aggressive rider is Bradley White (OUCH Presented By Maxxis).
We believe all 115 riders have signed in and will start today.
The riders are off!
The crowds are good again today here in the start city. Fabio Calabria (Team Type 1) gets the first mechanical of the day - fortunately he's still in the neutral zone so it should be very easy to catch back up.
The Garmin-Slipstream team is on the front, just cruising along and soaking up the applause. The team currently leads the overall with David Zabriskie - something the riders are very pleased about after last year's winner and Garmin team member Christian Vande Velde had to withdraw earlier in the race due to a hand fracture.
Quick Step and Bissell teams join Garmin at the front, about 2.8 miles into the 3.9-mile neutral zone. The field will roll through the start area again for a second time after completing a lap around the downtown. Calabria is back in the peloton, and there have been no other mechanicals.
Stage six is officially underway. We're in the town of Chillicothe, a town of about 10,000 people in the rolling hills of Missouri. The town is at the junction of Highways 36 and 65.
The town is known for producing the first bread slicing machine on July 7, 1928, when Chillicothe Baker, Frank Bench and Inventor Otto Rohwedder sliced the first loaves of bread with the machine. The invention boosted the local bakery's sales by 2,000% in two weeks. The saying, the greatest thing since sliced bread has gone on to become an integral part of the English language signifying American ingenuity.
We have word from the officials that they have just confirmed that Dominique Cornu (Quick Step) actually finished ninth in the time trial yesterday and is currently ninth in the GC at 1:16 behind the leader Zabriskie. He was left off the official results issued after the stage.
Two riders launch the first attack of the day: Luis Romero Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home Presented By Cooking Light) and Kiel Reijnen (Jelly Belly Cycling Team). They have a 10-second gap on the field.
It's turning into another hot, sunny day. It's about 86 degrees now and temperatures seem to be rising. Riders won't get much shade while out on today's course so they'll have to drink plenty of fluids.
The terrain is gently rolling and must feel flat compared to some of the other days already raced in this year's Tour. The break is racing along at 34mph.
Three riders are bridging up to the leaders, but it's all for naught as the entire lead group of five is swept up by the eager peloton.
The current roads are very long and straight. That will make it tough for a break to get away as they would remain in sight of the peloton for much longer than when racing on twisty roads. Riders are rolling through farm country. Looks like soybeans are the crop of choice here.
The peloton is not just lazing about. In fact, there is a lot of activity as riders try to get away in breaks, but nothing is sticking yet.
We no longer have a commentator email, but we still want to hear from you. You can post feedback - let us know what you think of the stage or if we've made any mistakes - in our forum at http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=3398.
There are people at the farms along the roadsides waving and cheering. We may be passing some Amish or Mennonite farms, judging by the look of the farmers and the farms.
The peloton is some huge rollers. In fact, it's like riding a rollercoaster.
A Quick Step rider gives a good try at getting away, but he is caught before we can identify him, and the peloton is riding all together again.
Today, there will be two intermediate sprints and one KOM. The sprints will happen in Gallatin at mile 29.3 and in Savannah at mile 93.1 The sole KOM will come at mile 103.1.
A group of 15 riders works itself into the lead, but Garmin isn't having any of that. Big breakaways are too dangerous for its leader David Zabriskie, and the American squad reels the break back in. Next a Cervelo rider gives it ago, but he's not any luckier at getting away.
The peloton rides into Lock Springs. This year's Tour of Missouri has not been one for breakaways to succeed so far. Today could be a different though.
Cyclingnews' Peter Hymas spoke to Kelly Benefit Strategies team director Jonas Carney. "Now that there are a bunch of riders three to four minutes back on GC, maybe today's the day a break goes to the line."
KBS's best rider is Scott Wizanski. He would have been in seventh, but got a 20-second penalty for pacing after getting a flat and a slow neutral wheel change on stage into Jeffertson City. "We're disappointed by the ruling, but there are still two days of racing to go," said Jonas Carney.
The roads are very, very straight. In case you're counting, only 22 turns remain for the entire stage!
The peloton is strung out single-file, but so far no one is getting away and staying away. Six riders give it a go, including riders from Jelly Belly and Kelly Benefit Strategies, but they are brought back together.
The cattle are a little confused. The passing racers set off a stampede as a whole bunch of them start running at top speed in the same direction as the race. Fortunately, there is a fence. Four riders launch an attack and another four try to bridge.
The peloton is all together again.
It's a big day of racing in Europe today, too. The Vuelta stage 13 just finished up - a mountaintop finish on Sierra Nevada in Spain. High up on the classification list are also Paris-Brussels, Tour of Britain opening stage and the seventh round of the mountain bike World Cup in Champery, Switzerland.
Another group of 20 men has formed and been caught. The race is flying along today with all these attempts to launch off the front. The average speed for the first 20 miles is 32mph. We notice that the soy fields have given way to corn fields, which are just about ready to be harvested.
Liquigas racer Franco Pellizotti of Italy has been enjoying his time at the Tour of Missouri. He told Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins before the start of today's stage, "I've really had a good time. I've never done this race before. It's been exciting to see all the people at the start and finish - especially as we seem to ride through the middle of nowhere in between." He wants to spend more time racing in America. "I hope I can come back to do this race next year, and I've asked my team to put me on a schedule with more American races." Pellizotti is in 103rd place in the GC.
Tyler Wren (Colavita/Sutter Home Presented By Cooking Light ) needs a new front wheel. There haven't been many mechanicals yet today.
The riders are about to turn left onto a much wider road. They're also near a place where Jesse James robbed a bank. James was a bank and train robber who lived from 1847 to 1882. He also participated in committing guerrilla-like Confederate atrocities against the Union during the American Civil War.
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team) and Davide Frattini (Colavita/Sutter Home Presented By Cooking Light ) escape off the front. They're seeing 5km to go until the first intermediate sprint.
Craig Lewis (Team Columbia-HTC) bridges up and another few come along to make eight off the front. Some may have their eyes on the sprint points, but alas, they are reeled back in by the hyperactive field.
Bradley White (OUCH Presented By Maxxis) has a flat tire and needs a rear wheel change.
The first three riders in the intermediate sprint will get time bonuses of three, two and one seconds respectively. That might not sound like a lot, but it could make a difference in the GC. For example, Marco Pinotti (Columbia-HTC) is sitting in fourth place, just one second behind Tom Zirbel (Bissell). They are 44 and 45 seconds respectively behind GC leader David Zabriskie.
The sprint is on, and the town of Gallatin has obviously come out in full force.
Cervelo is setting the pace at the front approaching the sprint.
Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) needs a rear wheel change, too, as the bunch sprints across the line. We'll get you results as soon as we have them.
Sprint #1 results are
1 Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team)
2 Brian Vandborg (Liquigas)
3 Dominique Cornu (Quick Step)
Maybe Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) took his flat as a sign? He just decided to abandon.
At mile 32, the average speed is 32 miles per hour. That's four miles per hour faster than the fastest likely average speed calculated by organizers for the stage's timetable.
Gallatin, the site of our first sprint of the day, is the town where Frank James, brother of robber Jesse James, was tried for his crimes.
Approaching Lake Viking, Missouri, four riders are off the front: Edward King (Cervelo Test Team), Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly Cycling Team), Francois Parisien (Planet Energy) and Andrew Randell (Planet Energy).
Thor Hushovd, leader of the points classification, has a lot of fans out cheering him on. According to yesterday's stage results, Hushovd is leading Mark Cavendish in the points competition by one point and JJ Haedo is in third, trailing by three points (before any sprints today). The interesting thing is that Cavendish is no longer in the race after dropping out a few days ago with a respiratory infection. We're wondering whether he can still place in the points competition if he has DNF'ed, and we've set our Kirsten Robbins out looking for the answer.
The attack of the four riders has caused chaos in the field. There's a split in the field, but then the four are re-absorbed by the field. A Cervelo rider, Brett Lancaster, counterattacks and is followed by an Astana rider.
The Astana rider has bridged up, as have three others - with about one-third of today's stage complete. That makes five off the front.
Surprise, surprise, that break is caught. No one seems able to get away, but that's not stopping the brave from trying.
Four more riders give it a go with three more chasing just behind them. Given the overall high pace of the peloton so far, any break would have to be going really fast to escape and stay away.
Five kilometers to go until the feed zone, and the field is all back together. Maybe the racers will call a truce in order to eat lunch.
We see "THOR" painted on the road in a place that feels like the middle of nowhere. It must be great inspiration for him to know he has so many fans cheering him on all across Missouri.
The field is in the feedzone, although poor Matthew Crane (Jelly Belly Cycling Team) doesn't get to enjoy his lunch. He has to stop for a rear wheel and then chase back on.
At least two riders haven't gotten the memo about lunch. They continue what has been a nearly constant stream of attacks in today's stage thus far.
Only one of the two riders actually makes it off the front in that attack. It's Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team), and he's worked himself into a 45-second advantage, helped in part by the peloton taking a group nature break.
Davide Malacarne (Quick Step) and Charly Vives (Planet Energy) have both abandoned in the feed zone. Perhaps today's high pace took too big of a toll on them.
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team) is really opening up his lead. He's on his own out front, with a gap of 1:45.
The 35-year-old Hunt is often thought of as a sprinter, so it's interesting that he's off the front. He's been the British Road Racing National Champion twice (1997 and 2001), and a recent success for him was a win in stage four of this year's Tour of Denmark.
Hunt is riding pretty comfortably, with his hands on his hoods. In the peloton, now at 2:35, Garmin-Slipstream is sitting at the front, riding tempo, but not appearing to chase too hard.
Hunt has asked if his team car can come up to support him. Despite the gap already at 2:35, only the Mavic neutral support vehicle and the officials are with Hunt.
Ahh, there's the car. Hunt is now chatting with his director - maybe getting some advice on what he should do now that he's off the front.
With so many others having tried so hard to get off the front, Hunt might be surprised to find himself out here all alone. He's riding very open, unshaded roads while eating a snack and standing up to stretch his legs. It's a good day to have your team kit be white!
Hunt looks good. He motoring along while Garmin-Slipstream controls the peloton's pace according to plan.
Steven Cozza of that Garmin Slipstream team told Cyclingnews earlier today, "It's our job to ride at the front all day today and bring back any threatening guys. It's always hard to control a race, especially here because the terrain is so rolling."
It's really cool how we have an All-American team here at the Tour of Missouri. With (last year's Tour of Missouri winner) Vande Velde having to pull out, we were happy that (Dave) Zabriskie won the TT (yesterday) and moved into the yellow jersey. Similarly to last year, we want to be in yellow and go for a win."
The riders have just turned onto Route Z, and it'll be the last turn they make for a very long time. It's a dead straight road for the next 30+ miles. We notice some cornfields on either side - maybe that'll give Hunt a little shelter from the wind as he rides the rollers.
Hunt's in a relatively aero tuck, looking relaxed with his forearms resting on the tops of the bars and hands hanging out in free space. His lead is holding steady at three minutes.
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team) has proven that he knows how to win races. In addition to his Tour of Denmark result we mentioned earlier, he won the GP Ouest-France in 2002, a stage in the Tour de Picardie in 2003, a stage in the Tour de Wallonie in 2005, a stage in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise in 2007 and a stage in the Tour de Langkawi last year.
Hunt's advantage is 3:05. He's in 98th place in the GC at 7:17 behind Zabriskie. That means he's no threat to the GC favorites and the peloton will likely be happy to let him hang out front for awhile with this sort of a gap.
Clad in yellow, David Zabriskie looks comfortable in the peloton riding with his Garmin-Slipstream teammates. He's sitting fourth in a Garmin train of six total riders at the front of the main bunch.
Hunt is riding past a huge windmill farm on the right. We count at least six. Judging by their size and the number of them, it must get quite windy; however, fortunately for these riders, it's pretty calm today. The windmills are turning slowly.
Behind him, there is some action in the peloton. Timothy Johnson (OUCH Presented By Maxxis) and Christopher Jones (Team Type 1) attack and get a gap.
Garmin is chasing back Johnson and Jones. They sit up, seeing the writing on the wall, as other riders try to counter.
Jason Donald (Garmin-Slipstream) needs a wheel change.
Two more riders escape off the front of the peloton, with one man in between. The road is still completely straight but it is really up and down - one roller after another as far as you can see in both directions.
Just shy of the 100km mark, Hunt is still alone on his own off the front. Time for him to have another snack. Riders are attacking constantly back in the peloton . Nothing more is sticking, but if the attacks continue at this frequency and intensity, it seems like a matter of time until some more riders get away.
We pass some flags alongside the road and get confirmation that the riders have a tailwind.
It's colorful at the front of the peloton now with riders of a variety of teams driving the pace and taking turns attacking. At this point, no one team has it all under control.
The blistering pace of the peloton is taking it's toll. Hunt is just 20 seconds away now. They've really reeled him back in, plus he seems to have sat up and said "Enough of this!".
Six riders are trying to bridge up to Hunt.
It's at least six riders that have caught Hunt - we think more like 10. The group has maybe 20 seconds on the peloton. They're not riding very organized though. If they don't get together and commit, they will get caught.
It's chaos in the front group. They are not working smoothly together. Most of the riders are taking turns, but they're also doing a lot of looking around.
A Columbia-HTC rider just went back to get some bottles for his teammates. We watched him take seven bottles from his team car! Some went into his cages, some went into his back pockets and some went into his jersey down behind his neck and upper back! That's quite a load.
Peloton is all together again. They are flying along, helped by a massive tailwind.
Several more riders have dropped back to the team cars to restock. They are taking advantage of a lull in the attacking.
Before today's stage, Tom Zirbel (Bissell) who is in third overall, predicted a very tough stage. So far, his prediction is right on the mark - it's been a blazing fast stage with lots of attacks and accelerations to chase down those attacks.
"There are still two days of racing left," he said this morning. "I think these will be the two hardest days of racing yet." Zirbel is just one second ahead of Marco Pinotti of Columbia-HTC in the GC. He's relying on his Bissell team to take the time bonues from Pinotti if need be. "I'll be happy when the race finishes in Kansas City if I'm still on the podium," Zirbel said.
Christopher Jones (Team Type 1) tried another attack, but he was quickly caught. Meanwhile at the back in the caravan, Team Saxo Bank was warned for letting one of its riders hang on too long to the bottle he was getting handed.
Five riders have a go off the front. They've got maybe five seconds, 10 at the most, though they are taking even turns pulling.
The break's riders are Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank), Thomas Vedel Kvist (Quck Step), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Christopher Baldwin (OUCH Presented By Maxxis), and Scott Wizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies).
That break had some good horsepower in it, but it wasn't enough, and the peloton reabsorbs them.
David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) are back in the field after a wheel change. Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) is back after a bike change.
The peloton is spread wide across the field. Garmin is back at the front with about a half-dozen riders. There has been a break in the attacking.
At last, the peloton takes a turn. It's a left turn off of Route Z / MO48 and onto Route D. We might have switched directions, but don't worry, it's still very rolling and the roads are quite straight.
The racers are seven minutes ahead of the fastest schedule expected by the organizers. They are going 30.1 mph on average (48.4 kph). They might be taking a break now and riding with no attacks, but no one can say they haven't been racing hard today!
We'd like to give a shout out to Cafe:ine. The company has an airstream bus, driven all the way over from Georgia, set up outside the start and finish lines every day. They've recently set up a booth for the pro cyclists and the media to get their daily coffee fixes.
Andreas Klier (Cervelo Test Team) needs a wheel.
This is the fastest Tour of Missouri stage yet in the race's three-year history. The previous fastest stage was set last year on the way to Rolla. It was 29.4 mph.
The peloton is all together, but Garmin is no longer at the front. Now Cervelo is at the front setting the pace. Some riders are struggling and falling off the back.
All the rollers today have added up to 4,000 feet of climbing. That's not stopping BMC though from taking a turn at the front setting the pace.
Today's stage will finish in St. Joseph, which has previously hosted a Tour of Missouri start. St. Joseph, with a population of 73,990 in the city and 110,000 in the county, is known as the place where the Pony Express began and where Jesse James met his end.
Three riders have gotten off the front.
It's nice and warm at the finish according to Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins. However, there are some ominous dark clouds in the vicinity which may or may not bring some rain. The finish line is set up outside the City Hall and there is a happening expo which is hosting a lot of fans out on the front lawn.
The lead group of three morphed into a group of eight off the front before getting reabsorbed by the peloton. The riders see 5km to go until intermediate sprint number 2.
After a few miles of narrower farm roads, the racers are back on wider roads, which should be better for the sprint coming up in Savannah. The peloton is spread wide across the road. No one has started the wind-up to the sprint yet.
Two riders just went off the front: Frederique Robert (Quck Step) and Phillip Gaimon (Jelly Belly Cycling Team), taking advantage of the lull in the action.
Cervelo and Garmin are at the front of the chasing peloton. There's a tailwind for the sprint. If these two riders stay off the front for it, they'll scoop up two of the three time bonuses available.
This is the second and final intermediate sprint today. There is just one KOM, and the riders won't reach it until mile 103.1, which is just 7.2 miles from the finish. It might play a decisive role at the end of the race.
Robert and Gaimon are working together. They are on roads with some very straight sections, and the field can see them on some sections of the course given the 20-second gap.
Phillip Gaimon is just 23-years-old, but he's won two races this year including the Mt. Washington Hill Climb and stage 2 of the San Dimas Stage Race.
The two leaders see 20km to go, and they've grown their advantage to 30 seconds. They look very good and are working well together.
There are no finishing circuits today, but it is not just a straight run in like some of the prevoius stages. There are several corners to contend with on the way during the last three kilometres. It would be a good finish to see a flyer get away and succeed.
Also, with seven miles to go, there is a short steep climb with KOM points on the line. Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) holds the mountains jersey with 30 points, and Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) is second at 23 points.
Five kilometers to go until the KOM. 15km until the finish.
The field has closed to within 15 seconds.
The field is spread wide across the road, and our two leaders have opened the gap back up to 25 seconds.
Before the start, Marco Pinotti (Columbia-HTC), who is in fourth in the GC told us, "It's not going to be easy for Columbia - anyone on the team - to win the yellow jersey because Zabrike has such a big lead. But the race isn't finished yet. We'll have to see how things go today and tomorrow. The only way we can beat Zabriske is if we get in a breakaway or Zabriskie has a mishap." So far, none of those things have happened.
"As a team, we'll be happy to get one rider on the podium overall." Just one second off third in the GC, Pinotti is the best candidate to fill that role. "The team would also be happy with another stage win," he added. Those wins would add to the wins of Mark Cavendish before he pulled out of the race.
1km to go to the KOM. Astana attacks.
Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych were the two who attacked and bridged up to the two leaders.
However, all four are caught just in time for Aldape to catch up and take maximum points in the KOM. That'll help secure his place in the mountains jersey.
The field is shattered after the KOM. Two riders attack from the front including Marco Pinotti and another rider.
The KOM results are
1 Moises Aldape Chavez (Team Type 1)
2 Yaroslav Popovych (Astana)
3 Andrey Zeits (Astana)
4 Dario Cataldo (Quck Step)
5 Frederique Robert (Quck Step)
Pinotti took one rider with him and another bridged up. That gives us a three-man lead group including Marco Pinotti (Team Columbia-HTC), Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) and Dario Cataldo (Quck Step). What a move by Pinotti to try to get the time needs.
Dyachenko and Cataldo are caught. Pinotti keeps trying.
Then Pinotti is caught, too, bringing the peloton all together again. Garmin and Bissell were largely responsible for that chase. Garmin knew it was too dangerous to let someone like Pinotti off the front.
Columbia's Craig Lewis attacks, but Bissell covers him.
Jeff Louder (BMC) has attacked and gotten off the front. He's famous for going for it with an attack like this at the end of a race.
Louder is caught and Luis Romero Amaran (Colavita) counter attacks and gets a gap.
The peloton is all together and strung out around a corner.
Cervelo is at the front going, going going. They are driving the pace, then Davide Frattini (Colavita/Sutter Home) attacks.
Cervelo is at the front again pushing. They are looking out for their points leader, Thor Hushovd.
Ted King takes a turn at the front. Michael Barry is up there, too.
Michael Barry swings off. The peloton is all out with 1km to go.
Cervelo is on fire at the front. Columbia-HTC is there too with George Hincapie.
Hincapie swings off. It's Cervelo - probably Hushovd - and one of the Haedo brothers going for it.
Liquigas sneaks through and takes the win.
It's Francesco Chicchi with think. He came through far on the right side of the road as Thor Hushovd and Sebastian Haedo were occupied with each other on the left. Everyone on the left side seemed to run out of power as Chicchi accelerated and overtook many racers at the end.
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was second and Sebastian Haedo was third, unofficially.
Our GC top three made it safely to the finish line and did not take enough bonus seconds at any point today to change the standings. Therefore Dave Zabriskie (Garmin - Slipstream) keeps yellow going into tomorrow's final stage.
Our final placings for today's stage are
1 Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas)
2 Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)
3 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita/Sutter Home
4 Keven Lacombe (Can) Planet Energy
5 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia-HTC
6 Martin Gilbert (Can) Planet Energy
7 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8 Alex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies
That wraps up Cyclingnews' live coverage for stage six. Please join us tomorrow for the final stage (seven) of the 2009 Tour of Missouri. The riders will race a 72.3-mile circuit race around the streets of Kansas City, Missouri. Live coverage will begin at 2:00 PM local time (CDST).