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Maryland Cycling Classic: Will the third time be a charm?

Race organizers are hopeful that Trek-Segafredo, Team BikeExchange, and other WorldTour teams will join Rally Cycling at the start.

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The Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare, which is America’s top-ranked one-day professional road race on the UCI Calendar, announced that the race will finally take place; it’s scheduled for Sunday, September 4, 2022. Hopefully, after the new event was postponed the past two years due to COVID protocols, the third time will be a charm. Event chairman John Kelly of Kelly Benefits Strategies said, “From the beginning, our aspirations have been a world-class professional cycling race in the state of Maryland. You only have one chance to make a first impression and we want to do things right.”

The race is set to start in Sparks, Maryland, 20 miles north of Baltimore, and finish at the city’s famous Inner Harbor. Race organizers noted that they have been fortunate, despite the disappointments of the last two years, to keep the original core group of sponsors together—including presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare, the State of Maryland, Visit Baltimore, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Thorne Health Tech, and Athlos Sportswear.

“The Classic will showcase our great city to a global audience,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott of Baltimore. “We welcome everyone, visitors and residents, to enjoy this free public event and experience Baltimore’s exceptional hospitality and world-class amenities.” Kelly added, “The course will feature the scenic beauty and hilly terrain of Baltimore County and an urban circuit, within Baltimore, that will showcase several local communities and neighborhoods.”

Last year, before the event was canceled, several WorldTour teams planned to participate in the event, including Trek-Segafredo and Team BikeExchange. Organizers are hopeful for an even better turnout in 2022. Rally Cycling, America’s top-ranked ProTeam, has already committed to the event. Rally Cycling athlete and nearby Virginia resident Ben King, a two-time Vuelta a España stage-winner and former U.S. national champion, is slated to participate.

“A top-level race close to home is a dream for any cyclist,” said King. “After several years without any races of this caliber in the USA, it’s very exciting that the Maryland Cycling Classic will bring some of the best competition in the world to the East Coast. American cycling has a lot to offer, and this event is going to be great for both the racers and the fans.”

King recalls attending the old Kelly Cup races in Baltimore as a junior in 2005. “After our race, I remember sticking around to watch the pros race. All the best racers were there, and it was just so inspiring; it made me want to get to that level. Hopefully, bringing a major race back to the area will do the same for a lot of younger kids today — encourage them to get into the sport, live healthier, and chase their dreams.”

The charity ride Bridges of Hope, which benefits UnitedHealthcare’s Children’s Foundation, will take place Saturday morning, September 3, in Sparks. And the weekend will include a series of events to be announced in the new year, including community outreach and cycling education programs in Baltimore, and Baltimore County. Race day activities will include a free entertainment festival showcasing the region as well as local and national vendors in the cycling industry, plus additional participation events. Further details about the race and accompanying weekend events will be announced in the spring of 2022.