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Inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic postponed for second straight year

The inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic, which had been scheduled for Labor Day weekend, will be postponed for the second straight year “due to post-COVID conditions not aligning with the standards necessitated for a world-class event,” the organizers announced Friday.

The major international cycling race, originally scheduled to take place in Baltimore in 2020, is now scheduled for Sept. 5, 2022. Issues with course development and guarantees of international athletes traveling for the event contributed to the decision, event chairman John Kelly said in a release.

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“From the beginning, our aspirations have been a world-class professional cycling race in the state of Maryland,” said Kelly, president of Kelly Benefits Strategies. “You only have one chance to make a first impression and we want to do things right. … We look forward to launching this world-class event in 2022.”

Uncertainties surrounding the race this fall included ongoing travel restrictions in some areas of the world, said Terry Hasseltine, president of the Sport and Entertainment Corp. of Maryland, which owns the event.

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The 110- to 125-mile race would ideally start and end in Baltimore but travel into surrounding counties, Hasseltine said when the event was announced last October. With 110 to 125 cyclists racing for professional teams across the globe, the event is projected to bring a $20 million benefit to the region, drawing tourists as well as spending by the racers’ teams, organizers say.

“Hosting a world-class pro cycling race with all of the ancillary events that coincide with an event of this magnitude has always been at the core of our efforts in bringing the Maryland Cycling Classic to life,” Hasseltine said. “Our leadership team had to make this very difficult decision to postpone to 2022. This said, we remain committed to building a world-class event for everyone to enjoy here in Maryland. We thank all our key partners that have stuck with us during this difficult time.”

UnitedHealthcare will stay on as the event’s presenting sponsor for 2022, and the USA Cycling-sponsored race will apply again to be part of the prestigious Union Cycliste Internationale ProSeries, which includes the sport’s top-ranked events in North and South America.

The ProSeries is a step below the Switzerland-based world cycling governing body’s WorldTour races, which include the Tour de France and similar multiday stage races in Italy and Spain.

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Baltimore and Baltimore County officials said they are still enthusiastic about next year’s event.

“We understand postponing the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic was a difficult decision, but we remain committed to working with partners to ensure the success of this exciting event,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. “Though the COVID-19 pandemic hampered the current state of international travel, we look forward to presenting the beauty and culture of Baltimore to the world in 2022.”

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said he “fully understands the decision” to postpone.

“We remain entirely committed to working with our partners to ensure the success of this exciting opportunity and we look forward to showcasing all of Baltimore County’s scenic communities and vibrant offerings for participants at an amazing event next year,” Olszewski said.

The race team has been working with partners Medalist Sports and KOM Sports to build out a weekend of events for the 2022 race that will include a Health and Wellness Festival, a Public Charity Ride and a Community Outreach Program on bike education and participation.

With several mass public events in Maryland still uncertain — the city nixed both Artscape and its annual Fourth of July fireworks, citing COVID-19 concerns — several of the programs and their planning were made “prohibitively difficult,” the organizers said.

Al Hutchinson, President & CEO of Visit Baltimore, said his organization “stands behind the event team and its partners’ decision.”

“We remain excited to bring the race to Baltimore and look forward to our continued partnership in 2022,” Hutchinson said.

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