8 riders to watch at the 2022 Maryland Cycling Classic
After a three-year build-up, the UnitedHealthcare-supported Maryland Cycling Classic finally makes its international debut on Sunday, September 4, now the only UCI ProSeries event of the 2022 season in the United States. It will serve as preparation for a trio of UCI races in North America, with a pair of Canadian WorldTour races, Grand Prix Quebec and Grand Prix Montreal, to follow a week later.
Organizers have been more than patient as the inaugural one-day race was canceled on the first two efforts due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The last time a premier UCI event was held in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States was in 2015, Richmond, Virginia hosting the UCI Road World Championships .
The third time is really the charm of Baltimore, known as Charm City, which will see four WorldTour teams start with Grand Tour leadership.
Favorites include Tour de France stage winners Michael Matthews and Dylan Groenewegen for Team BikeExchange-Jayco, two-time Giro d’Italia points classification winner Giacomo Nizzolo for Israel-Premier Tech, the best American rider in the Tour de France 2022, 13th place, Neilson Powless of EF Education-EasyPost and 2019 Junior World Champion Quinn Simmons with Trek-Segafredo.
US-based ProTeam Human Powered Health brings a team stacked to match the power of WorldTour teams, and is poised to impress their sponsor relationships in the region, including starting in Sparks, Maryland, on the property of Kelly Benefits.
With most teams racing overseas and a handful of smaller teams focused on the few remaining races in North America, there didn’t seem to be any clear strategies for Maryland’s inaugural race, as many reconnaissance rides took place. took place on Friday morning, or scheduled for Saturday. The race will cover 193.7 kilometers (120.4 miles) with the final 30 miles using a circuit in downtown Baltimore for a finish near the iconic Inner Harbor.
The course offers breakaway opportunities but the finish circuits will not fail to allow the sprinter teams to get noticed. Read the 8 riders to watch at the 2022 Maryland Cycling Classic below.
The race route has a few rolls north around Prettyboy Reservoir but the climbs aren’t long so suits an all-around runner and a strong kicker like Matthews. If his teammate doesn’t have the legs after the trip through horse country in northern Maryland, look for the Aussie up front. He comes out of this year’s Tour with a stage victory and two second places.
A two-time winner in Quebec (2018 and 2019), Matthews is making his first appearance in the United States since the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, in 2015, where he won the silver medal. This race had a hard-hitting climb on the circuits, so the Baltimore course may suit him better and he is one to watch.
“Our main goal is to support Dylan in Maryland, while for Quebec and Montreal I will do my best because those races probably suit my style more, but you never know in racing and we will be ready for different approaches as and as those races take off,” Matthews said.
The BikeExchange-Jayco team brings a double for a sprint finish to Australian Michael Matthews and Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen. Early indications are that the team will be working to position Groenewegen to capture glory at the Inner Harbor finish.
His high-octane speed was on display in July at the Tour de France, where he took a Stage 3 victory in Sønderborg, Denmark and a second-place finish in the Grand Final on the Champs-Élysées.
“We have several cards to play and surely if it comes down to a final sprint, we know that we can compete with anyone. When we go to a race, we always participate to try to win it, and we will do even also in Maryland,” Groenewegen said, without a strong commitment to final tactics.
Israel-Premier Tech aligns Giacomo Nizzolo, double winner of the points classification of the Giro d’Italia (2015 and 2016). One of his best seasons was 2020, when he won the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice and won the Italian and European titles. He followed that up with a second place at the Tour of Flanders and a stage victory at the Giro in 2021.
So far in 2022, the 33-year-old Italian has eight top 10 finishes in one-day races and a stage win at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, and is seeking that iconic win.
Among his highlights are the lead riders of the WorldTour team, which include Belgian veteran Sep Vanmaerke and reigning Canadian road race champion Guillaume Boivin.
“We don’t really know what to expect, but it should be a flat final circuit, so we aim to try the sprint well and get a great result,” the Italian sprinter said on the team’s Twitter feed.
The best American rider in this year’s Tour de France, Neilson Powless, could very well be the best overall rider in the first Maryland Cycling Classic. Although he is known for his climbing prowess, which earned him a fourth place in Alpe d’Huez this year, he ticks all the boxes as an all-rounder.
Aged 26 the day before the race, Powless proved his versatility on Stage 5 of this year’s Tour as he conquered the cobbles and climbs with a fourth-place finish. And on similar ground last year across Belgium at the UCI Road World Championships, he placed fifth. He gave a nod to teammate Magnus Cort, who won stage 10 of this year’s Tour, if it came down to a pure sprint finish.
“We’ll have a pretty fast guy with Magnus [Cort] if it is a sprint. We’ll know more about the course on Friday when we get a chance to ride it before. I hope the first parts of the race will be difficult, but if not, Magnus will be our card at the end. Having the chance to work with a team trying to put together a successful sprint will help a lot,” said Powless. Cycling news.
“It’s always a special feeling to race in America. I almost made the trip for the Nationals, but it was going to be too tight between the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. I’m going to visit a new place, but I’m really looking forward to it!”
US WorldTour Team Trek-Segafredo brings a strong squad led by the all-rounder Quinn Simmons, who won the mountain classification at this year’s Tour de Suisse and Tirreno-Adriatico. The 21-year-old from Durango, Colorado made frequent breakaways during this year’s Tour de France. His aggressive driving won him the most combative driver award after stage 19 in Cahors, and he helped his teammate Mads Pedersen win a breakaway in Saint-Etienne.
In Maryland, Simmons will have double Grand Tour, Tour and Vuelta a España stage winner Tony Gallopin on the road, as well as Toms Skujinš, who enjoyed great success between 2015 and 2018 at Amgen Tour of California.
ProTeam Human Powered Health, based in the United States, wants to impress not only the local public, but also its local sponsors, since the Maryland Cycling Classic begins Sunday afternoon from the headquarters of Kelly Benefits. Among his list are three American pilots, a trio of Canadians and Arvid De Kleijn of the Netherlands.
Dutch sprinter De Kleijn is one to watch in the final, but it could most likely be freelance artist Robin Carpenter as the breakout artist of the day. The supporting cast includes defending national road race champions Kyle Murphy of the United States and Pier-André Côté of Canada.
“I would love to be on the road on Sunday as much for myself as for the fans,” Carpenter said. “They want to see us race, so I don’t think you’ll see us waiting for the race to come to us.”
Among continental teams, Los Angeles’ L39ION brings an all-star roster to Maryland, led by team co-founder Cory Williams, all-rounder Tyler Williams and former All-American Critics’ Champion Ty Magner. The three leaders give the team options on the varied course, especially Cory Williams or Ty Magner if they find themselves in a bunch sprint.
But look for Tyler Williams, no connection to Cory, as he was the overall champion of the 2021 Joe Martin Stage Race, one of only two UCI stage races still taking place in the United States. This year he won a stage at Joe Martin and a stage at Redlands Bicycle Classic, showing his skills on the road. At last weekend’s IU Health Momentum Indy criterium, he was the highest-placed L39ION rider in third place.
The L39ION team, which dominates criterium racing in the United States, would like nothing better than to take a big victory on the road.
The US national team includes a pair of Wildlife Generation teammates Scott McGill, who won bronze at the 2022 US Pro Criterium and won two stages at the Tour of Portugal, and Noah Granigan, who finished second in the standings general at Joe Martin Stage Race and won the KOM Title at the Tour of Turkey. McGill is hot right now, used to racing against WorldTour riders, and could use a win to cement a move to the next level.
“The team is a solid mix of young and more experienced talent. Scott and Noah will be our leaders and they’ve both had great seasons,” said team manager Michael Sayers. Cycling news. “Scott is about to step up to a very high level, and hopefully this opportunity puts him above that. Noah has been consistently good all year.
“Our goal is to allow these men to show their talent and learn things along the way. We’re going to race hard, I can guarantee that. These national teams are great ways to represent our national programs and I’m happy to have these guys.”