'Tale of two landscapes' on menu for inaugural Maryland ProSeries race

A route of 193.7 kilometres (120.4 miles) was unveiled today by organisers for the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare, described as “more punishing than it looks on paper” by American Ben King (Human Powered Health), who lives and trains part of the year in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The UCI 1.Pro race, set for September 4, announced nine of the 17 teams invited to participate last week, which included Human Powered Health. The race will start in Sparks, Maryland on the property of Kelly Benefits, one of the sponsors of the Pro Continental team. Details for the course announcement today revealed that after taking in more than 144 kilometres (90 miles) on rural roads in northern Maryland, a decisive 12km (7.5-mile) circuit in downtown Baltimore will be completed four and a half times for the finish.

“I really like what they’ve done. The Maryland Cycling Classic will give riders and spectators alike a feel for rural and urban Maryland. The quiet country roads at the start are like those that I train on in central Virginia. I can guarantee the constant rolling terrain will be more punishing than it looks on paper,” said King, a double stage winner from the Vuelta a España and former US Pro road race champion. 

“I expect the atmosphere in the city to rival that of any major race in the world. The multiple finishing circuits in front of thousands and thousands of fans will for sure be an adrenaline boost. The people of Maryland and Baltimore should get ready for a great show.” 

Organisers described the course as a “tale of two landscapes”, with the opening rolling roads in Baltimore County passing horse farms and Prettyboy Reservoir and providing a full menu of unrelenting elevation changes. The city circuit will feature 19 turns and more punchy climbs, passing the Inner Harbor and Harbor East business districts in Baltimore with a fast 3km downhill finish to the line from St. Paul Street to East Pratt. Neighborhoods on the loop include Little Italy, Fells Point, Old Town, Mount Vernon and Greenmount West.

“We are extremely proud and appreciative of the public-private effort and collaboration of our partners.  Throughout the planning process, we’ve been able to develop a very diverse and challenging course integrating legendary routes in Baltimore County with a ‘big city’ finish in downtown Baltimore,” said Chris Aronhalt, president of Medalist Sports, which manages the race. “This Labor Day weekend will provide spectators and viewers with the perfect opportunity to enjoy world-class cycling, community engagement and Maryland hospitality.” 

The Maryland Cycling Classic has been sidelined for two year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of only three remaining UCI road events in the United States, along with the 2.2-ranked Tour of the Gila, which begins this week in New Mexico, and the Joe Martin Stage Race, which takes place in May in Arkansas. The last a major road race took place in Maryland was the 1996 Tour DuPont.

The September date for the Maryland race is positioned before the Grand Prix Québec and Grand Prix Montréal, providing men's teams a full week of UCI racing. Trek-Segafredo and BikeExchange-Jayco were the first two WorldTeams to confirm participation at the Maryland Cycling Classic, along with Human Powered Health and several Continental teams.

The event is supported by host partners of the City of Baltimore, Visit Baltimore, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland.

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