As excitement builds for the 2008 Tour of Missouri cycling race, organizers will host an 11:30 a.m. luncheon today at The Centre for those businesses seeking to play a part in the second annual event.


As excitement builds for the 2008 Tour of Missouri cycling race, organizers will host an 11:30 a.m. luncheon today at The Centre for those businesses seeking to play a part in the second annual event.


The luncheon will inform local entrepreneurs how they can be part of the Rolla Tour of Missouri team, said The Centre Director Scott Caron, who is leading organizing efforts.
“We’ve got about 65 businesses to attend,” Caron said. “It’ll be a great opportunity to support the team in some fashion.


“Business people will receive a package outlining the benefits. Certainly, it’ll be a lot of work, and it does involve some cost, but the economic benefits, being able to showcase our community, will be well worth the investment,” Caron said.


Caron said attendees will have the opportunity to be a part of the Tour of Missouri effort in many ways, from large or small sponsorships for the race  seeking to offer a hand in sponsoring the Sept. 11 finish of the Fourth Stage in Rolla from Lebanon and the start of the Fifth Stage in St. James on Sept. 12 to Jefferson City. The race will culminate two days later in St. Louis.


Business persons seeking to attend the luncheon should contact Stevie Kearse at the Chamber office by 10:30 a.m. today for reservations, 364-3577.


“We want everyone who wants to participate. If they haven’t called, they should still come. We’ll make room for them,” Kearse said.


“We’re expecting the cost for both the finish and the start the next day in St. James to cost about $50,000,” she said.


While Wednesday’s luncheon is specifically for business leaders, Caron said other gatherings will be scheduled or organize the volunteer effort.


“We’ll have a couple of other meetings for volunteers. That will come later,” Caron said.
Last year, in the inaugural event, the six-day Tour of Missouri drew 367,000 spectators and brought an estimated $26.2 million into the state’s economy. The estimated total audience, which included video feeds to 13 states and 22 countries, included 22.038 million viewers, newspaper coverage included 425 million readers and 67 radio stations provided coverage.


For 2008, a seventh day has been added to the race.


There will be 120 cyclists, which consist of 15 teams of eight riders each. Each team will have between five and 10 support staff, so the entire professional field will consist of between 200 and 220 participants.


There will be an estimated 3,000 race officials and volunteers, who will travel with the race on a day-to-day basis.


Rolla and St. James learned of their selection to the Tour during a Jan. 30 press conference in Jefferson City.


The luncheon, catered by Panera Bread, will conclude by 1 p.m.