City and state organizations are vying for a 2020 partnership with an international organization to host a professional cycling event in Baltimore.
The Maryland Sports Commission and Visit Baltimore are working with Georgia-based Medalist Sports, a cycling event organizer, to bring a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) ProSeries event to the city’s Inner Harbor. The Swiss organization is “the worldwide governing body for cycling” and oversees the popular World Tour races, such as Tour de France.
If the bid passes successfully through UCI, the Inner Harbor’s ProSeries cycling event will be the United States’ first 1.HC-classified road race in eight years. The classification, which denotes a one-day event, ranks immediately below the renowned World Tour races.
The last UCI event in the U.S. that held this distinction was the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic in 2012, according to Guillermo Rojas Jr., director of marketing and communications for USA Cycling, the sport’s national governing body.
“Any event that UCI hosts is a top-level international event,” Rojas said. “We should see the top U.S. and international athletes. Some of these athletes will compete in Tour de France, the Olympics and World Championships.”
The application seeks to host the professional cycling event during Labor Day weekend 2020 taking into account the “timing of when an East Coast site would be desirable in the cycling community,” said Terry Hasseltine, executive director of the Maryland Sports Commission, a promotional agency of the Maryland Stadium Authority.
“Looking at the evaluation of when the timing would be right to have an event of this magnitude, the date makes sense,” Hasseltine said.
Hasseltine said he expects the event to cost approximately $1 million, attracting 75,000 to 125,000 people to the city.
“I think it will definitely increase tourism. Cycling is a popular sport, both domestically and abroad,” Hasseltine said. “We’re just doing our due diligence to ensure that we continue to move the needle forward on tremendous opportunities for the city and for the state.”
Maryland is hosting another major cycling event in June, the 2019 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships in Hagerstown, for the third consecutive year, Rojas said.
“This region is a cycling hub. It’s an area that has shown interest in racing,” Rojas said.
Hasseltine agreed and described the community as having “a really big appetite for cycling activities in the central region of Maryland.”
He added that the cycling community has been pushing for “a higher level of cycling” opportunities in the state. Biking advocates, for example, recently protested the removal and partial removal of two bike lanes in the city.
Bike Maryland and other local cycling organizations could not be reached for a comment.
Medalist Sports has experience organizing large bike races and events, including the professional Tour of Utah and Colorado Classic races as well as amateur rides known as centuries and gran fondos.
The application to host the ProSeries cycling event in Inner Harbor was submitted on June 1 to USA Cycling. The organization then submitted the application on June 6 to UCI, Hasseltine said.
UCI press officer Louis Chenaille said the 2020 ProSeries calendar will be approved in September 2019, during the organization’s management committee meeting period.
If the application is successful, 2020 Labor Day weekend will center around the one-day, professional cycling event, including “a festival of various cycling-related activities,” Hasseltine said.