Maryland Cycling Classic aims to add a women’s race in 2023
Organizers of the Maryland Cycling Classic hope to create a women’s race alongside the men’s Pro Series in 2023, if all goes according to plan.
The men’s race survived two years of cancellations before finally launching as the UCI’s first major one-day race in the United States. Sunday’s men’s race drew Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech).
The launch of a men-only race in an era of growing parity has raised some eyebrows, but according to race owner Terry Hasseltine, president of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, the event aims to add women’s race in 2023.
All future plans hinge on the success of Sunday’s Pro Series men’s race, a 194km race that begins in Sparks, Maryland at the headquarters of Kelly Benefits and ends with four 12km circuits around the famous harbor. Baltimore interior.
Baltimore is steeped in cycling history, from the former Criterium Bike Jam/Kelly Cup to the local Kelly Benefit Strategies team that evolved into today’s Human Powered Health teams. The race’s main sponsor, UnitedHealthcare, supported the men’s and women’s professional teams through 2018.
Hasseltine told Cyclingnews the atmosphere of the pre-race events was “through the roof” and that he expects the race to be a huge success. The organization has big plans for expansion in the future, starting with adding a women’s race in 2023.
“First, we want this year’s event to be a success, then in 2023 we will add the women’s race, and then look to add more days to the event,” Hasseltine said.
Asked about a possible move up to WorldTour level, he added that this could be a future consideration, but adding a women’s race and extending the duration would come first.
The ambitious plans would be a boon for the Americas where UCI events have declined over the past decade. The United States previously held lucrative one-day race series along the eastern seaboard, then larger stage races like the Tour of Missouri, Tour of Georgia, Tour of Utah and Race One in WorldTour stages of the Tour of California. Only the Joe Martin and Tour of the Gila UCI 2.2-rated stage races remain.
Previous races like the Tour of California have hosted races for women that were a shadow of the events of their male counterparts, or not at all as in the case of the Tour of Utah. Events that have lasted – Joe Martin and Tour of the Gila – have historically had equal race days for both genders.
Hasseltine assured Cyclingnews that Maryland will ensure parity for men and women as part of its long-term plan, not just a token criterion.
“Men race through the Sparks campaign at the circuit and we plan to provide a fair race for women.”
The race will likely continue to take place on the same weekend around Labor Day, a quiet time for events in the city before the Baltimore Ravens start their NFL season. This year the event overlaps with the Simac Ladies Tour – a Women’s WorldTour race.
While the men’s race also straddles the Vuelta a España and the first stage of the Tour of Britain (2.Pro), the proximity of the Quebec and Montreal Grands Prix has attracted a relatively large field – especially for teams like BikeExchange-Jayco and EF Education-EasyPost seeking points for the 2023 WorldTour relegation fight.
Hasseltine says organizers will need to work with the UCI and USA Cycling to ensure the women’s event can attract an equally strong field. It remains to be seen how this will affect the Women’s WorldTour calendar.