Cavendish wins first stage at Tour of Missouri

By John Marshall, AP

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — British rider Mark Cavendish broke from a large pack with just over 200 meters left to win the first stage of the Tour of Missouri on Monday.

Cavendish stayed with the main pack with his Columbia teammates before bursting around American Tyler Farrar with less than 200 meters left on the 90-mile (145-kilometer) stage from St. Joseph to Kansas City.

Cavendish finished in 3 hours, 15 minutes, 14 seconds to just beat Farrar, riding for Garmin/Chipotle. Italian rider Francesco Chicchi of team Liquigas finished third and defending champion George Hincapie, of team Columbia, also was in a group of 90 riders credited with the same time as Cavendish.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see Cavendish wearing the yellow jersey at the end of the day.

The Brit has had quite a run of late, winning four stages of this year’s Tour de France, a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, and three stages at last week’s Tour of Ireland.

He also won a stage at the Tour of California in February, though was moved to the back of the pack for holding onto a team car during the race.

The sprint specialist could have competed in the Spanish Vuelta this week, but instead opted for the rolling hills of Missouri for a chance to win in the U.S.

“We’re an American team, an American sponsor and yeah, I had a point to prove here in America,” Cavendish said. “It just made sense to come here and ride. There’s a really good field here and with a majority of flat stages it’s easier to win here. I’m really happy I’m here.”

The 623-mile (1,003-kilometer) race resumes on Tuesday for a 125-mile (200-kilometer) stage from Clinton to Springfield, and concludes Sunday in St. Louis.