Cavendish wins 1st Stage of 2009 Tour of Missouri bike race;
Defending champ Vande Velde crashes

Mark Cavendish, the fastest man on two-wheels in a short sprint, won the opening stage of the Tour of Missouri on Monday in St. Louis.

The victory in a crowded field marked the 21st individual win of the year for the 24-year-old sprinter for Team Columbia.

Thor Hushovd's Cervelo Test Team made a bid for the stage win after it appeared that Columbia's control of the peloton fell apart in the last mile or so.

Interviewed online immediately after the bike race on Tour of Missouri TourTracker, however, Cavendish said the lead-out and final meters of the race proceded just as planned.

A videostream of the stage, with audio commentary by Paul Sherwen and Frankie Andreau and text updates from VeloNews, was available during the last couple of hours of the race. Coverage of Stage 2 — the 112-mile stage from Ste. Genevieve to Cape Girardeau — starts about 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

A three-man breakaway of Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) , Moises Aldape Chavez (Team Type 1), and Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) led most of the 75-mile circuit bike race around St. Louis, but the peloton never fell more than a minute behind.

Aldape went solo after Sorensen and Vaitkus gave up before the last lap, then Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) and Brad White (OUCH) led for a short while.

Team Columbia controlled the peloton during most of the bell lap, with George Hincapie and Mick Rogers setting the pace.

Vande Velde

Defending Tour of Missouri champion Christian Vande Velde was among the cyclists who crashed on a turn just behind the sprinters. He told VeloNews that he broke a bone in his hand, but he's OK to ride Stage 2.

“Luck hasn't been on my side this year.” He crashed out of the Giro d'Italia in May.

Top 5 finishers

1. Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia

2. Juan Jose Haedo, Saxo Bank

3. Thor Hushovd, Cervelo

4. Francesco Chicchi, Liquigas

5. Martin Gilbert, Planet Energy

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