Haedo Wins Stage 4 of 2009 Tour of Missouri
A fourth day and a fourth time on the podium, but today Argentina's Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank) stands on the top spot with the win at Stage 4 at the Tour of Missouri. He finished the 109.2-mile (175.7 km) stage in 04:07:55. Yesterday's stage winner, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team), finished second today, and Italy's Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) repeated again in third. In the general classification (G.C.), J.J. Haedo will wear the Missouri Tourism Leader's Jersey going into tomorrow's Individual Time Trial in Sedalia.
"It was my first year ever (to wear yellow jersey). I'll be processing it all night. Today I reached the right energy level at the right moment ," said Haedo, who has won many individual races, but has never worn a leader's jersey in a stage race until today.
Today's Stage 4 started in St. James to the sounds of the Grape & Fall Festival. The field of 115 pro riders traversed the scenic ridges and spring-fed river valleys for a total of 109.2 miles (175.7 km), finishing in central Missouri at the state capital. This stage, the only repeat stage from 2008, was capped by three climbs up the "Capitol Wall", a steep section in front of the capitol building adjacent to the Missouri River.
Just before the afternoon start in St. James, Team Columbia-HTC announced that consecutive stage winner Mark Cavendish had to withdraw from the race and would not continue. "Mark has been fighting an infection since traveling to the USA, which has spread to his lungs. He has had a long and successful season, and it is a team priority that his general health be protected. He is on antibiotics and will rest here in Missouri for a few days prior to returning to Europe," state Columbia-HTC team owner Bob Stapleton.
The first attack of the day was launched by American Brad White (OUCH presented by Maxxis) just 10 miles into the race. He was joined a few miles later by three more Americans, Michael Creed (Team Type I), Jeff Louder (BMC Racing), and Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly Cycling). They stayed away for almost 90 miles, being caught by a serious peloton in Jefferson City. And on the final three-mile circuit, close to two dozen riders went down in crash with 1500 meters to go, but all were able to finish.
"I had to stop because of the crash," said Slovenian rider Jani Brajkovic (Astana), who won the 2007 Tour de Georgia and is riding his first Tour of Missouri. "Any time there are circuits it is a bit stressful."
With the Stage 4 win today, J.J. Haedo wears the yellow jersey, and was also awarded the Edward Jones Sprint jersey. Dario Cataldo (QuickStep) will wear the 180 Energy/Icelandic Glacial Water Best Young Rider jersey. And White was awarded the Drury Hotels Most Aggressive Rider jersey tomorrow. Moises Aldape (Team Type I) of Mexico continues to wear the Michelob Ultra KOM jersey.
New to the Top 10 in the G.C. today are Creed, who moved from 35th to 7th overall, and Louder, who moved from 55th to 8th overall. Three significant riders who will be watched closely in the time trial are all 26 seconds off the lead, 2007 Tour of Missouri champion George Hincapie (Columbia-HTC - soon Team BMC) in 21st place, 2009 Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana - soon Team RadioShack) in 41st place, and four-time U.S. Professional Time Trial champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream), who moved from 65th to 56th place today.
"It was really a fast lap, lots of hard corners and the last 300 metres was a really hard hill," Thor Hushovd commented. "The team was pulling all day they did a great job. Haussler lead me out and I think I waited too long or lost a little speed. In the end J.J. Haedo came from behind and he had more speed. But I'm happy with second place. My form is good and the TestTeam is enjoying the Tour of Missouri. Now I'm second overall, I'd like to have the lead but I'd like to ride a good time trial I'll do my best and we'll see how I end up."
"I wasn't sure we could top anything in Jefferson City (from 2008), but unlike last year we did it today. As good as 2008 was, it boasted a wonderful field of competitors. This is an event that has bi-partisan support, and the top competitors are here at the Tour of Missouri," said Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.
On Friday the highly anticipated individual time trial will take place. The race against the clock is a flat and fast 19-mile (30.6 km) course to be held in Sedalia at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. It's a key stage for overall contenders, and easily accessible for spectators, with three great viewing points along the Katy Trail.