tour of missouri: stage 1 / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Tour of Missouri. Stage 1. 90 km. St. Joseph to Kansas City.

Mark Cavendish, the confident Brit, current world champion Madison rider, and arguably the best sprinter in the world (4 Tour de France stage wins in 2008) took stage 1 of the 2nd annual Tour of Missouri today in Kansas City. Cavendish, with ample help from strong Columbia teammates who controlled the peleton over the last 3 km, bested Tyler Farrar of Garmin Chilpolte and Liquidgas's Francesco Chicchi to notch his first win in the states. It was Cavendish's 15th stage win in 2008 proving if he's in a field sprint at the end, it's unlikely he'll be beaten. Cavendish walked away with 3 jersey's in his inaugural US race. The green sprinter's jersey, the white jersey of the best young rider, and the yellow of the race leader.

Expect Cavendish to notch a win or two more before the week's out. Tomorrow, a 125-mile fairly flat ride from Clinton to Springfield will likely see plenty of attacks and a break-away attempt or two. The flatness of these stages, however, given the quality of riders, really lends itself to a mass field sprint at the end. Anytime that happens, you can expect Cavendish to find a way to the front. However, Mark's weakness in time-trailing means that Wednesday's time trial in Branson could turn decisive.

Best legs of the day went to Brooke Miller, US National Road Champion who separated herself from the field with 250 meters to the finish and took home the women's criterium crown. The women's criterium was held on a closed loop that featured 1 hour of riding on a 1 km loop, followed by a 5 lap sprint finish. Although numerous attacks were launched, the tightness of the course and lack of hills, prevented any strong breaks. In the end, Brooke made it look rather easy. In an unprecedented show of generosity, the crowd offered up a $1000 cash prime, almost 1/2 the first place prize, that was given out on the 5th lap from the finish.

Race organizers were definitely pleased to add the dimension of women's racing to the burgeoning Tour of Missouri as it helped to keep the crowd entertained throughout the afternoon and primed for the end of the men's stage 1 finish. Kudos to the race organizers for attracting such a strong field to the race.