Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Michael Matthews and Dylan Groenewegen are expected to compete at the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare, headlining the early rosters among the four WorldTour squads invited to compete at the event on September 4.
A preliminary roll call of international riders provided by race organisers also confirmed Giacomo Nizzolo and Sep Vanmarcke of Israel-Premier Tech, Tony Gallopin and Toms Skujins of Trek-Segafredo, and Marijn Van Den Berg of EF Education-EasyPost.
After a delay of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Maryland Cycling Classic rescheduled its debut for late summer 2022 with a start in Sparks, Maryland and a finish in downtown Baltimore along the Chesapeake Bay. Australian programme BikeExchange-Jayco and US-based Trek-Segafredo were the first two teams confirmed for the rescheduled launch of the UCI 1.Pro event, which is the only race of that level in the US this year.
“I am excited to be racing again in America, it has been a while since I have raced there. My last race in the United States was at the World Championship, and I am looking forward to meeting our American fans again,” said Matthews, who finished second at the Road World Championships in Richmond in 2015.
“We have a strong team going there, and looking at the course, it seems to be set up for different type of racing. We’ll have to see how the race will evolve. It’s going to be exciting.”
Matthews won stage 14 of the Tour this year with a stinging acceleration on an uphill finish to Mende. It was his first stage win at the Tour in five years, when in 2017 he also scored the green points jersey. His teammate Groenewegen also secured a win at the Tour this year, opening with a stage 3 victory in Denmark and then finishing with a second place on the Champs-Élysées.
The Maryland Cycling Classic route begins with 144 kilometres through the rolling hills in north Maryland which will be ripe for opportunists in a breakaway. The final 50km of the 193.7km course are set across four and half laps of a 12km circuit in downtown Charm City that beckon to lead-out trains in a fast finish.
It’s not just sprinters who will compete on a course set up like one of the Classics. Among the top all-around performers from North America confirmed to take the start line are Neilson Powless and Alex Howes of EF Education-EasyPost, Quinn Simmons of Trek-Segafredo, US Pro road race champion Kyle Murphy and Canadian road race champion Pier-André Côté of Human Powered Health, Ty Magner of L39ION of Los Angeles, as well as Scott McGill and Tyler Stites as part of Team USA.
“It’s really special that we can race in America this year. I didn’t get to race nationals because of the timing with the Tour de France, so I’m really excited to race in America for my first time in 2022,” said Powless, who was the best-placed US rider at this year’s Tour de France, 13th overall. He finished off the stage podium twice on two epic days of the French Grand Tour, fourth on stage 5 after a day riding the pavé of north-east France and fourth on stage 12 atop Alpe d’Huez.
Maryland native McGill leads the roster for Team USA. Riding for Wildlife Generation this season, McGill won a pair of stages at the Tour of Portugal. He will be joined by teammate Noah Granigan, won the mountain classification at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey and finished second at Joe Martin Stage Race. Stites earned the silver at the US Pro road race championship when he was racing for Project Echelon Racing earlier this summer, and will be joined by former teammate Hugo Scala Jr, who was fifth in the US Pro criterium championship.
Rounding out the US national team are Richmond, Virginia native Eddie Anderson (Alpcin-Deceuninck), Jared Scott (Aevolo), and Kelly Benefits Strategies teammates LIam Flanagan and Patrick Welch.
The September date for the Maryland Cycling Classic is strategically positioned a few days prior to a pair of one-day WorldTour events in Canada - the Grand Prix Québec on September 9 and Grand Prix Montréal on September 11, providing men's teams a full week of UCI racing.
For spectators, the Maryland race offers three days of community events on Labor Day weekend, featuring an interactive festival, local foods and drinks, a free “Bike Jam” and the UHCCF Bridges of Hope Ride presented by Kelly Benefits charity bike ride on September 2, where participants can ride on part of the pro course.
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