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Biking with Bill: Post-race party and on to Clinton

Star sports reporter Bill Reiter is following the pack all week as the Tour of Missouri rides across Missouri. Check back here for his updates.

After the race

Several hours after the race ended, they were packing up the barriers around the Plaza to take to Clinton, where the next leg of the race starts Wednesday.

The tear-down didn’t stop people from enjoying more beer at the post-race party.

Margot Kral-Hasty was walking through the Plaza with a friend and a cold beer in her hand.

“I loved it,” she said about the race. “Man, was that exhilarating.”

Folks in KC seemed pretty impressed by the event.

See you tomorrow in Clinton.

First stage ends

Cuba’s Ivan Dominguez (his nickname is “The Cuban Missile Crisis”) wins the first stage in a sprint finish.

Three-lap finish at Plaza

On the big screen showing the race at the Plaza, the Kansas City skyline has come back in view.

Fans are starting to collect at the orange barriers again, waiting for the cyclists.

We’re getting ready for a three-lap finish in which cyclists will shoot past the Plaza at more than 50 miles per hour, three times in a row.

Stay tuned for the winner

Plaza crowd spreads out

The mood has mellowed on the Plaza as the race continues to the north. The enormous crowds that ran as much as seven-people deep to kick off the Tour a few hours ago have spread out across the Plaza. People are sipping beers in beer tents, snacking on food at local restaurants and watching the race on large-screens. There's still a lot of people here -- early estimates put the number at 15,000 or more -- but they're not all crammed into a three-block stretch anymore

They're off!

With the start, the cyclists start slowly. They'll gain steam as they go, when a race official will let let them know when it really kicks in. People are screaming and cheering and still hugging the barriers that separate the racers from the sidewalk. Some fans have stood up on chairs to get a better view. One guy tried hanging from a tree limb but it didn't work out. He's back on the ground.

Before the race, part 3

We spot our first beer drinkers of the day just before noon on the Plaza. Dan and Brittini Schuldt of Grand Island, Neb., are each sipping on a cold Michelob Ultra as they wait in the sun for the race to begin.

So, how does the beer taste on a Tuesday morning? Says Brittini: "It. Tastes. Fabulous."

The cyclists have arrived. They're signing autographs and signing in, and the atmosphere has turned slightly competitive. But that hasn't stopped a few more beers from popping open in the crowd.

(Happily, the cyclists seem to be sticking to water.)

Before the race, part 2

Word has it the cyclists will be arriving any minute now.

"We've just heard they're on their way," a volunteer says.

It'll happen at a stage with a blue tent near the start line. Fans start to gather at orange barriers across the street.

But don't expect Tour de France winner Alberto Contador anytime soon. "The Discovery Channel (team) is always the last to sign in," a spokesman says.

Before the race, part 1

The party's finally getting started.

At 9:30 a.m., the south side of the Plaza, where the Tour of Missouri bike race will start and end, was empty. No fans, no cyclists. Didn’t exactly look like the big deal we'd been expecting.

But now the streets are filling, the stands have opened and the cyclists should be arriving soon.

Some of the sights drawing fans with cameras: A huge Michelob Light beer tent. A Volkswagen “Sea World” Bug with a huge black fin and tail. A guy in a skin-tight race jersey with a huge banana sticking out of his back pocket. And two giant Clydesdales, named Bud and Chris, sitting in metal cages under a white Budweiser tent.

"Oh, God, it's been a long time since I've seen a Clydesdale," says Molly Scharig, a 50-year-old from Lone Jack, Mo., who brought her girlfriend to the races.

She peers at the huge animals and beams. Around her, people snap photos, parents carry kids on their backs. The scene looks like a weekend carnival set down, strangely, in the Plaza on a Tuesday morning.

"This is so much fun!" Scharig says. "I knew the race was happening today, and I love watching bicycle races, so I just came down. Look at all this. Isn't this exciting for Kansas City?"

There are also plenty of avid race fans getting here early and camping out for a good view of the start of the race.

Stephen and Allison Black stand near the starting line with their 5-month-old son, Spencer. They've come from Leavenworth to spend the day here.

"It's cheaper than going to Paris," Allison says.

But for the all the excitement, something’s still missing: the cyclists themselves.

"Where are they?" Allison asks.

They should be here soon, race officials say. At about noon, they're expected to arrive, sign in, be seen, and maybe mingle with the crowd.

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