The 2009 Tour of Missouri is safe.
Earlier this month, the governor's office froze the $1.5 million set aside for the bicycling tour that covers about 600 miles of Missouri roads and brought in about $30 million and drew about 435,000 spectators to the state in the 2008 Tour.
Cycling enthusiasts across the state sent hundreds of calls and e-mails to the governor's office once they heard this news and feared the tour would be cancelled. Plans were already underway and nearing completion when this announcement occurred.
Gov. Jay Nixon's office said the cut was due to budget cuts across the state. However, July 14, the governor's office announced Gov. Nixon was going to release the funds needed for the tour this year.
"Missouri currently faces tremendous financial challenges, and the state must find ways to reduce spending. Even as my administration continues to tighten its belt, I believe that the 2009 Tour of Missouri should go forward. The race will go on this year, and Missourians deserve to know that state funds for the event are used transparently and accountably. They should know precisely how money for the Tour of Missouri is being spent, and that the event is being run in a way that minimizes the cost to taxpayers," Gov. Nixon said.
"To ensure transparency and accountability, I asked the Office of Administration to seek a full and fair explanation of all expenditures connected with the Tour of Missouri in 2007 and 2008, and of budgeted expenditures and contracts for 2009. A representative from the Office of Administration met today with representatives of the Department of Economic Development, the Division of Tourism and Tour of Missouri, Inc. Because of assurances from the Division of Tourism and the Tour of Missouri, Inc. that they are now willing to share records regarding spending on previous races and planned spending for this year's race, the Office of Budget and Planning will immediately begin to provide state funds for the 2009 Tour of Missouri."
Though the Tour has been saved for this year, there are fans of the Tour of Missouri that are preparing for something similar to happen for next year's event. Blogs on Blogspot and Twitter have already been posted to save the 2010 Tour of Missouri.
The Tour not only brings in money to big cities but to smaller cities as well that tourists and cycling teams travel through to get to stage sites.
This year the Tour is Sept. 7-13 and will take seven stages for cyclists to finish. The stages are a circuit race in St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau, Farmington to Rolla, St. James to Jefferson City, Sedalia will be an individual time trial, Chillicothe to St. Joseph and finishing out with a circuit race in Kansas City.
The Tour of Missouri was recently upgraded to one of the top five ranked events outside Europe by International and National Federations for Cycling. This upgrade has attracted pro-tour teams to the Tour of Missouri, including Lance Armstrong's team, Astana, and Cervelo Test Team, Team Columbia HTC, Garmin Slipstream, Liquigas and others, many of which are currently participating in the Tour de France.
According to the Tour of Missouri 2009 official Web site, www.tourofmissouri.com, domestic teams that will participate in the tour are BISSELL Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing, Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, Jelly Belly, Kelly Benefit Strategies, OUCH presented by Maxxis and Team Type 1.