How to "tailgate" the Tour of Missouri, part 2

Bike racing is one of those sports that is just now really taking root in America--following in the very large foot steps of
Tour de Georgia crowd
Tour de Georgia crowd
Missourian John Howard, Greg Lemond, and Lance Armstrong, to name a few.

The sport in Europe attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators for each stage--and upwards of one million for just one stage of the Tour de France.

For the unitiated fan, the sport can be somewhat of a puzzle. How do you go about watching this so called exciting sport?

A team sport
Cycling is a team sport. Much like any other sport- the goal is overall victory for a team.

I equate the Tour of Missouri with any other "series", like the Cardinals fabulous 2006 season. When the Redbirds won best of 7- they were the overall winner. They didn't win every game--obviously--but they had the best record and where therefore crowned World Champs.

In cycling, the team that contains the rider with the fastest overall time over the entire event is the winner. And part of the thrill of watching a stage race (the type of race that the Tour of Missouri is...) is in seeing how each team maneuvers and uses their eight riders defensively and offensively.

Each team has riders with different roles--usually defined as domestiques, rouleurs (rollers), sprinters, General Classification contenders or climbers. There are 15 teams in the Tour of Missouri, but realistically not all of them have a real chance of winning the overall competition.

Overall winner vs individual stage winners
The tour will be pitting the best North American pros against the creme de la creme of the European peleton. So the race will be about two dynamics: which teams will compete for the overall general classification and which teams will try to be spoilers and win individual stages.

Since the race is coming immediately after the US Professional Championships and right before the World Championships, it is likely going to showcase some pretty fantastic riding.

Seeing the action
In terms of actually participating and seeing the action up close--professional racing has a culture and tactic all of its own. The ways to really get into the "scene" in a way not possible in other world class events are to (1) see the event at a start, (2)see the event out on the course or (3) be present at the final kick at the end of a stage.

Finish lines will have a giant-screen TV. Images from the road can be beamed to the finish line and broadcast on the large-screen TV together with color commentary, starting about 2 hours before the race arrives at the finish line.

In some cases it may be possible to watch the start of the race in one city, then (taking an alternative route that the race will not follow) drive to the finish city. There you can watch the final two hours of the race on the giant-screen TV and watch the conclusion live. z

Read Part 1 of How to Tailgate the Tour of Missouri here.

Article author Mike Weiss is an amateur bicycle racer, owner of Bike Shark Bicycle Company, President of the Missouri Bicycle Racing Association, on the board of the Missouri Bicycle Federation, leads an annual tour group to Watch the Tour de France, and has been involved with organizing the Tour of Missouri from nearly the beginning.