The race numbers haven’t even been pinned on yet but already, the Maryland Cycling Classic is receiving high praise and even higher expectations.
The CEO of America’s governing body of competitive cycling, Brendan Quirk, called it the “most important bike race that’s happened in America in the last five years. It’s a godsend.”
Making its debut on Sunday, September 4, in the city of Baltimore, the Maryland Cycling Classic is America’s newest and highest ranked one-day professional cycling race with a UCI Class 1 ProSeries status.
The men’s only race is also just one of four UCI races remaining on U.S. soil, making it a rare opportunity for domestic elite riders to compete against some of the world’s best and perhaps even earn some coveted UCI points.
And indeed, we haven’t seen such a world-class field of riders stateside since the Amgen Tour of California, a multi-day WorldTour race that was last won by none other than Slovenian star Tadej Pogačar in 2019.
Sunday’s 194-kilometer (120-mile) race will be contested by several WorldTour teams with riders like Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) , Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Premier Tech) in their midst as well as young American talent like Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and Tyler Stites (USA Cycling).
In total there will be 111 riders representing 27 countries rolling off the Baltimore start line.
“This is world-class, this is the Tour de France coming here to race for the day,” commented Charles Aaron, Managing Director of the Human Powered Health team.
The race course is a diverse route that takes riders from the undulating pastoral countryside of Baltimore County to the urban landscape and waterfront of central Baltimore where they’ll complete four circuits and finish in the Inner Harbor area. The course has breakaway potential but could just as likely end in a bunch sprint.
The inaugural Maryland race is “the right thing at the right time” after seeing the “erosion of international events in the U.S.,” said Quirk, who’s witnessed American interest in road racing steadily decline in the past decade, and world-class events fold.
The Colorado Classic, the last remnants of the iconic Coors Classic, made the switch to becoming a women’s only event in 2019 but has since been financially unable to continue. Tour of California announced its indefinite hiatus in 2020 and the Tour of Utah international men’s race followed suit at the end of 2021.
Quirk hopes that events like the Maryland Cycling Classic will reignite some of America’s cycling fandom. It’s held in a big metropolitan area where a lot of new and future fans will get to see the world’s best compete on home soil. If if fans are tuning in on TV or online, they can watch it at a reasonable hour and not at the crack of dawn.
“We — USA Cycling— exist to grow the sport of bike racing across the U.S. And for us, two things have proven to grow the sport of bike racing. One, heroic riders like Neilson [Powless]…Neilson is the future of American bike racing. American fans were all shouting at their TVs this summer as he was fighting for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France,” said Quirk.
“Another thing that grows the sport are amazing races. It’s so complex and expensive to host an event like this so when a community decides it’s going to invest in an event, in cycling, it’s incredible. Races like the Maryland Cycling Classic are a gift to America. A gift to American bike racing.”
Fans aside, the Maryland Cycling Classic also plays an important role when it comes to the development of North American riders who may not often get the chance to compete against a world-class field.
“Team USA is here with some of our youngest and most exciting riders racing for our country. It’s a great opportunity for them to be racing against these incredibly strong WorldTour teams,” said Quirk.
How will they fare? You can watch for yourself.
The inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic will be broadcasted internationally to more than 100 countries.
Globally, you can follow the action online at:
– Global Cycling Network+ from 1:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m EST / 5:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. GMT.
– Tour Tracker: 1:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m EST / 5:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. GMT.
– Video on Demand: Global Cycling Network (CGN and YouTube Channels), EuroSport+
Locally, the race will stream at:
– WNUV – CW (Baltimore, local/regional, Live Over the Air): 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST
– Maryland Public TV (Md., Washington DC, parts of Pa., Va., W.Va., and Del.): Sept. 5, 11 – 11:30 p.m. EST