Organisers of the Maryland Cycling Classic, set for September 5 this year, announced they will delay the inaugural edition of the one-day UCI ProSeries race for another year.
It is the second time the US 1.Pro race has hit the reset button, originally planned to take place September 6, 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Organisers said there were still concerns “due to post-COVID conditions not aligning with the standards necessitated for a world-class event.”
“You only have one chance to make a first impression and we want to do things right. There are multiple factors in this difficult decision, mainly hinging on challenges post COVID from course development to guarantees of international athletes into the country. We will be back bigger and better in 2022,” said event Chairman John Kelly in a media release.
Earlier this year organisers were on track to stage the event in Baltimore County, Maryland and had announced 10 of 17 expected to compete, including two WorldTour squads Trek-Segafredo and Team BikeExchange.
“It’s a very good chance that the US Pro Nationals would be my last race in the US, unless we can get back for the race in Maryland. The team is down for it [Maryland Cycling Classic], but it’s a complicated time and situation to be across the Atlantic for a one-day race,” BikeExchange’s Brent Bookwalter told Cyclingnews at the US Pro Road Championships when he announced he would retire later this year after 16 seasons.
Top US domestic squads confirmed to race included ProTeam Rally Cycling, and several Continental programmes – Hagens Berman Axeon, Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling, Aevelo Pro Cycling, Team Illuminate and Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling. The Maryland Cycling Classic was a main target for the dwindling season.
"Hagens Berman Axeon was looking forward to the Maryland Cycling Classic. The team has always been able to capitalize on opportunities in the US, and racing in Maryland was going to be an important race for our program and our riders' development this year. The team was grateful for the opportunity to compete on home soil against WorldTour riders, particularly as there are so few races currently in North America. I hope to see it revived in 2022," said Jeff Louder, sports director for the Hagens Berman Axeon squad.
Two significant UCI WorldTour stops were on the schedule in eastern Canada the weekend following Maryland – the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. Both were recently rescheduled to September dates in 2022, eliminating a previously attractive setup for international teams to travel to North America from European bases for a week of one-day races.
The Maryland Cycling Classic was one of the major races on USA Cycling’s 2021 Pro Road Tour calendar. To date, nine of the original 15 events on the PRT have been moved, cancelled or postponed for the year. Just two UCI 2.2 events remain on the schedule – Joe Martin Stage Race from August 26 to 29 and Tour of the Gila from September 29 to October 3. The Maryland Cycling Classic and Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah were the only ProSeries events on the calendar and both have been postponed until 2022.
“Due to the uncertainty that still surrounds international travel into the United States, several international teams have alerted us of potential difficulties around in-bound flights and pass-through protocols including vaccination and no vaccination status,” said Steve Brunner, president of KOM Sports Marketing and co-founder of the Maryland event.
“Despite having a strong COVID plan, following CDC guidelines and testing per UCI protocols, it’s impossible to guarantee full passage into the country for all athletes. This, however, is one of several headwinds we’ve faced in the post COVID world when staging a world-class cycling race in a major city that is in the process of opening back up.”
With numerous mass public events in Maryland still uncertain, several of the event programs and public events were also a concern for organisers related to COVID-19 safety. Event partners Medalist Sports and KOM Sports were building a weekend of events that included a Health and Wellness Festival, a public charity bike ride, new hospitality and experiential platforms, which will also be moved to 2022.
"Hosting a world-class pro cycling race with all of the ancillary events that coincide with an event of this magnitude has always been at the core of our efforts in bringing the Maryland Cycling Classic to life,” said Terry Hasseltine, president of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, which owns the event.
“With all the uncertainties that still exist in market as well as some of the travel restrictions, our leadership team had to make this very difficult decision to postpone to 2022."
UnitedHealthcare has been confirmed to remain as a presenting sponsor for 2022.
Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling for people of all abilities and ages. Tyson has been recognized for communications excellence with 10 Phoenix Awards, presented by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp - and was recognized by a national media outlet as the first female depicted in a pro baseball card set (Ft. Myers Royals). She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times. Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France). Her favorite mountain bike rides are in Park City, Utah (USA).
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