Organisers of the Maryland Cycling Classic, a new 1.Pro-ranked one-day race, have announced the race will be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the event gained a new presenting sponsor in UnitedHealthcare, who have pledged their support for next year's edition.
The race is due to start in Baltimore County and finish in the City of Baltimore, and organisers hoped to attract a top field of riders with a position on the calendar five days before the two North American WorldTour races in Montréal and Québec. Community and lifestyle events are a big part of the planned weekend-long celebration of cycling.
Unlike New Zealand, which has eradicated COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic is still not under control in the United States, with the country topping 100,000 deaths this week. The Baltimore-DC region is one of the harder hit in the US but Maryland has had promising indicators over the past week. Governor Larry Hogan eased restrictions this week to allow outdoor dining and some youth sports and day camps but mass events are still not on the horizon.
"I commend the organizers of the Maryland Cycling Classic for taking this difficult, but necessary decision to aid in Maryland's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.
"Baltimore County looks forward to celebrating our region's assets and working together to ensure a safe and successful 2021 race."
The US calendar has been hit hard by coronavirus cancellations, with races being stopped before the season began. The Maryland Cycling Classic was the last UCI race in the country left on the schedule, with the Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila, Tour de Beauce, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, and Chrono Kristin Armstrong and White Spot/Delta Road Race all called off.
The domestic peloton has come together on Zwift for a Virtual Redlands Bicycle Classic, Virtual Tour of the Gila and a similar event for Joe Martin is on the schedule, but news of the Maryland Cycling Classic's cancellation in September will be gloomy news for American racers.
Event managers Medalist Sports had been busy finalizing the details of the event for this year but will now refocus on next season.
"In addition to the solid partner commitments for the inaugural event in 2020, operationally we had made significant progress toward host venues, route options, team invitations, and broadcast strategy," said Chris Aronhalt, Owner and President of Medalist Sports.
"We share in the disappointment with the worldwide fans and all who celebrate the sport of cycling, but we also recognize the challenges that the pandemic has presented. Postponement is the best decision for the future of the Maryland Cycling Classic, as well as the Baltimore community. The future is bright, especially with UnitedHealthcare's support."
UnitedHealthcare previously sponsored top-level men's and women's professional cycling teams in addition to supporting other events. Former UHC and current Rally Cycling rider Gavin Mannion welcomed the support of the company for the Maryland Cycling Classic.
"I'm very excited to see UnitedHealthcare and other sponsors stepping up to support cycling during this time," Mannion said. "I think their commitment to the sport will get us through this difficult period and it's nice to know they believe in our sport.
"As an American athlete, it's exciting to have a UCI Pro Series one-day event in the U.S. Since I've been a pro cyclist, the U.S.has had some very high-level stage races, but always seemed to lack in the one-day department, so, I'm already looking forward to next year."
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