Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Tour of Missouri" Bicycle Race, Stage 3

Discovery Channel rider Yarslav Popovych.
Discovery Channel rider Benjamin Noval

On Thursday, September 13, the Tour of Missouri bike race moved to Branson for an 18 mile individual time trial. My nephew, Matt Plumlee, came along and we split up to photograph the beginning of the race at the Branson Landing. The race took the riders north of town, and ended at The Shepard of the Hills. I stationed myself a couple hundred yards from the start house, to get action photos of the racers. Matt stayed at the start house, just inches from the racers. He told me that he heard some of them talking and joking like, "If you'll wait up for me, I'll help you up the hill". He even noticed one rider had a photo of his wife attached to his bike. Here's just a few of the photos from the event. I'll post more when I have time.
We arrived early and walked around and noticed many volunteers hard at work. We recognized many familar faces, as we have several good photography clients in the Branson area. These are the Myer brothers, Gail and Chris. We have photographed their families many times. They operate the Myer Hotels in Branson.The lobby of each of their hotels displays a recent family portrait that we have taken of their family. During our daughter Karla's wedding last month, we all stayed at their Comfort Inn and Suites Branson Meadows. We enjoyed our stay. That's the hotel we recommend to our friends when they visit Branson.
This rider is Alberto Contador. He was the winner of the 2007 Tour de France. He is not a favorite to win the Tour of Missouri, as his speciality is in the huge mountain races, such as in the Alps.

This is Levi Leipheimer of Discovery Team. He has always been one of my favorite tour riders. He finished 3rd in this year's Tour de France. He was the winner of today's race, finishing the ride in 39 minunte, 37 seconds. That is about the same amount of time it takes me to ride my bike to work at the studio, but it's only 6 3/4 miles, not the 18 they covered today.Here are a few photos that were taken by my nephew Matt. The photo above is George Hincapie arriving at the start house. Hincapie, the current race leader, is an incredible rider. He was Lance Armstrong's main lieutenant, during his run of tour victories. Hincapie has finished an incredible 11 Tour de France races. It's just hard to comprehend what great shape these athletes are in, to endure the pain and suffering associated with bike racing!
Another photo by Matt. Hincapie preparing for the ride.

Hincapie, race leader, was the last to leave the start house. He finished today's race in 6th place, 2 minutes 7 seconds behind Leipheimer. However, he is still in first place overall.

Hey, who's that guy riding on the side walk at Branson Landing? It's Alberto Contador! I guess when you are the current Tour de France winner, you can ride your bike any where you want. Actually, all the riders could be seen at time riding around the Landing. We noticed several of the riders on 76 (the "Strip" in Branson), coming back into town after the race. I guess after a hard 18 mile time trial, they wanted to take a leisurely tour back into town.

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