Michael Berry (CAN) of Team Columbia broke away from a lead group of 20 riders, less than 10 miles before the final circuits and held on to capture Stage Four of the 2008 Tour of Missouri. Berry finished 46 seconds ahead Eric Baumann (GER) of Sparkasse, who edged out third place finisher Danilo Wyss (SUI) of the BMC Racing Team.
Christian Vande Velde's (Garmin-Chipotle) fourth place finish allowed him to retain Missouri Tourism Leader's jersey going into Stage Five with an 18-second lead over Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Columbia in the General Classification standings. Svein Tuft (CAN) of Symetrics remains in third place. 2007 Tour of Missouri winner George Hincapie (Team Columbia) remains in fourth place, with Vande Velde's teammate Tom Danielson (USA) in fifth place.
Stage Four started under overcast skies in the town of Lebanon, Mo. where kids from local schools gave the Tour's 114 remaining riders a rousing send off. With Rogers in second overall by just 21 seconds, Team Columbia wasted no time going on the offensive. Launching attack after attack, Team Columbia attempted to wear down Vande Velde (USA) and his team in the battle for G.C. positioning. Later, a group of twenty riders formed from which Barry and Jeff Louder (USA) of BMC emerged. The duo built a one minute, 30 second-lead before Barry shed Louder and charged through the final circuits for the victory.
"It was a race of attrition today. Any of our guys could have gone on the attack and gone for the win, it just happened to be me," said Barry, who missed most of last season with pneumonia. "The chase was pretty dead and no one had the legs to close the gap. I was obviously in a position where I wasn't really a threat for the overall classification so I was able to get a good amount of time."
With his Stage Four performance, Baumann will take over at the Edward Jones Sprint competition and will wear the jersey during tomorrow's race. Dominique Rollin of Toyota United Pro Cycling will remain as the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain points leader and wear the jersey for the fourth straight day. The THF Realty Best Young Riders jersey will change hands with Roman Kreuziger (CZE) taking the lead in that competition. The Drury Hotels Aggressive Rider Jersey was awarded to Barry.
ftleonardwood.jpgThe Tour continues to be well-attended with large clusters of fans cheering riders on throughout the Stage Four course. The biggest crowds of the day appeared in Rolla, where fans lined the majority of the 2.1-mile circuit to witness the intense race action.
"I haven't raced in America before but I was really surprised by the amount of fans on the road today and on all the courses, said Baumann. He also described the racing in the U.S. as "very intense and competitive."