September 15/08 11:02 am - Tour of Missouri: Stage 7 report, Interview with Svein Tuft, Photos
Posted by Editoress on 09/15/08
Tour of Missouri
Stage 6 by Tom Evans
Stage 7 by Tom Evans
Stage 7 by Amy Smolens
Report courtesy Tour of Missouri
Thousands of fans lined the streets of downtown St. Louis to watch Team Garmin-Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde (USA) 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 (AUS) of Team Columbia who finished second in the General Classification. Svein Tuft (CAN) 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 (GBR) for the Stage Seven victory. Tyler Farrar (USA) of Team Garmin-Chipotle came in third.
"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 (CAN) 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 (Cze) of Liquigas won the THF Realty Best Young Rider jersey for the week. Jeffry Louder (USA) was voted the Drury Hotels Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for the Tour.
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.
Interview with Svein Tuft
by Amy Smolens
Symmetrics' Svein Tuft began the day in 3rd overall, behind only two Tour de France veterans, Garmin's Christian Vande Velde and Columbia's Michael Rogers. Stage 7 was scheduled to be a 70 mile flat circuit race in downtown St. Louis. Due to Saturday night's monsoon-like rains delivered by Hurricane Ike, some of the course's roads were underwater, making them unnavigable to all but the best cyclocross racers... so the course was shortened to 53 miles. As expected, the stage finished in a bunch sprint, with no significant GC changes. Tuft celebrated an impressive podium placing in what would probably be Symmetrics' last race as a team. I spoke to Svein while he signed autographs on photos and shirts for fans after the final podium:
Amy Smolens: What does it mean to be on the final podium at a race with this strong a field with as tough as the racing was all week?
Svein Tuft: It's pretty great! I mean, it was a little stressful the last few days because it definitely wasn't over and the Columbia guys kept throwing everything at us so it's a great feeling to finish holding that position with this caliber a field.
AS: Does it mean a lot in what's probably your last race with team Symmetrics?
ST: Yeah, for sure, it's a great way to cap this year for us.
AS: What are the strongest memories that you have of racing with these teammates and friends?
ST: Probably just the brotherhood of us all riding together and riding as one unit. That has been probably the greatest group of people I've been involved with in my life, and it's a sad thing for me to maybe say that this could be our last year, but these guys have been my best friends and my family for the last four years and I wouldn't change anything we've experienced together in my life, it's been worth every bit.
AS: So it this podium spot also a way to say thank you to your teammates?
ST: Yeah, for sure. That was part of it. This year has been amazing in a sense that we've been able to have such a great season.
AS: So what can we expect from you next year?
ST: That's unknown right now. We'll see what shakes down in the next month or so. I still have Worlds to focus on so I'm going to deal with that first.
AS: Good luck and thanks for your time all week.
ST: Thank you!