Mark Cavendish Wins Stage 1 of the 2009 Tour of Missouri
Britain's Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC) outsprinted a large field to claim the opening stage of the 2009 Tour of Missouri on Monday.
Cavendish, who won six stages of the Tour de France this year, crossed the finish line of the 120.7 km circuit around St. Louis in two hours, 43 minutes, 55 seconds.
Argentine Juan Jose Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) was second while Norway's Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) finished third in the 10-lap race. All three were credited with the same time.
The race features 15 teams, including seven ProTour squads and 24 riders who competed in this year's Tour de France.
Moises Aldape of Mexico, Tomas Vaitkus of Lithuania and Denmark's Chris Anker Sørensen spent a majority of the stage with a slight lead before they were steadily absorbed on the final lap, setting up the full-field sprint.
Unlike the Tour de France, in which Cavendish often had his team mates near the front in the final kilometre, the 26-year-old had to find his way around Hushovd in the dash to the line.
There were two crashes in the final kilometre, but no serious injuries.
American Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana) and German Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank) both returned to competition for the first time since crashing out of the Tour de France and finished in the main group along with last year's winner American Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Slipstream).
"We were pulling together with Columbia and then with 1.5 km to go, we just went off Columbia," Thor Hushovd commented after the stage and added that "Heinrich did a good job, unfortunately he crashed in the end. Then Brett Lancaster did an awesome job in the last corner and pulled me to just before the finish. I started my sprint and then Cavendish passed me but I'm happy - I haven't sprinted in a long time and I feel good. And yes, I'd like to have a stage win this week."
According to Cervelo TestTeam Sports Director Jean-Paul Van Poppel Thor Hushovd had a slow puncture in today's finish. "After the last corner it was Heinrich who swung off Brett and Brett goes full gas to the finish line with 150 metres to go then it was Thors turn to go to the leading position, unfortunately he had a slow puncture so the tire didn't have the pressure it required and he gets out of balance and that's why he couldn't make it to the finish line, two people pass him Cavendish and Haedo, nothing to be ashamed of though. It's silly that this happened there were a lot of punctures today with other teams and unfortunately it happened to Thor in the last few meters."
Watch 2009 Tour of Missouri video highlights in our video section.
The race continues on Tuesday with a 180.9-kilometre stage from St. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau. The week-long race concludes in Kansas City on Sunday.