Racers prepare for Tour of Missouri

According to a Daily Journal article:
Kansas City's Country Club Plaza will be the starting line for the inaugural 600-mile Tour of Missouri cycling race in September.

The six-day, nine-city staged race is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of spectators and daylong festivals are planned at key points along the route that ends at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

“This is going to be spectacular,” said Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association president Rick Hughes at a news conference Thursday in Kansas City to formally announce the event.

The race will launch from the Plaza, and the exact route in each city is expected to be announced in May. The Sept. 11-16 race will include stages from Clinton to Springfield, then a time trial in Branson. The next stage will be from Lebanon to Columbia, followed by a route from Jefferson City to St. Charles before ending in St. Louis at the Arch.

The annual event is expected to pump millions of dollars into the state's economy and Missouri's tourism industry.

The race will include 120 competitors from 15 countries, according to Jim Birrell, race director and a partner in Atlanta-based Medalist Sports, which also operates a similar race in Georgia.

The company is managing the Missouri event for the Hawthorne Foundation, a Missouri nonprofit formed by U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.

For the past year Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, chairman of the Missouri Tourism Commission, has spearheaded the state's effort to land the sanctioned race.

The Missouri Tourism Division has pledged $1.2 million to the event's $4 million estimated budget.