Human Powered Health takes to the start line of America’s biggest one-day race on September 3, the Maryland Cycling Classic, presented by UnitedHealthcare. A strong team of local Fallston-born and bred rider Scott McGill, Panamerican champion Pier-André Coté, Stephen Bassett, Adam De Vos, Colin Joyce, Gijs Van Hoecke and Sasha Weemaes will take on the best of the country’s cycling scene as well as European WorldTour stars.
A weekend extravaganza
The Classic is more than a bike race – it’s a long Labor Day weekend of celebrating everything that’s great about cycling, culminating in fierce racing on Sunday. The weekend of events “aims to promote both men’s and women’s cycling, healthy living, statewide and community engagement, and cycling awareness and advocacy.”
A long weekend of celebrating everything that’s great about cycling has been planned over the Labor Day break and will culminate in fierce, epic racing on Sunday.
On Saturday, the UHCCF Bridges of Hope Ride p/b Kelly Benefits hits some of the same roads the pros will race on, while raising money for the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation. Later that night, the team will be presented at Harbor Point from 5 PM local time.
There are plenty of festivities happening in town during the action on Sunday. If you’re in the area, make sure to get down to the Human Performance Expo presented by Human Powered Health in the Baltimore Market Place between E. Pratt Street and Lombard St. from 12:00-17:30.
To the racing itself, Human Powered Health Cycling aims to be at the forefront, a year after placing second through Nickolas Zukowsky. The Maryland Cycling Classic was a phenomenal success in its debut year, with the deceptively tough course catching all the teams off guard who expected the race to end in a sprint.
Instead, the hilly parcours around Maryland County split the race to pieces until only a small group came into Baltimore and fought for the win.
The start list for 2023 certainly reflects what teams learned last year with barely any true sprinters coming, but a whole host of puncheur talent making the trip over. The standouts are Simon Yates (Team Jayco AlUla), Tour de Suisse champion Mattias Skejlmose and ever-attacking Lidl – Trek teammate Toms Skujinš, Canadian Israel – Premier Tech pair Derek Gee and former rider Michael Woods, plus Simon Clarke, Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team) and Axel Zingle (Cofidis), arguably the fastest finisher on the list.
They will do battle with the best of US racing, including McGill, Bassett and Joyce, Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Joe Martin Stage Race winner Riley Sheehan (Israel – Premier Tech), second place at US nationals Tyler Williams, with former riders Robin Carpenter and Kyle Murphy (all L39ION of Los Angeles) and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing). Tour of Oman winner Matteo Jorgenson of the Movistar Team may well fly under the radar riding as part of the United States national squad.
Are you excited yet?
For McGill, this weekend’s racing is as special as it gets. The 24-year-old is from Fallston, a 16-mile drive east from the start in Sparks and began his cycling journey here, riding mountain bikes with his dad in Gunpowder State Park.
“To have the only professional race in America be in your backyard is awesome,” he said. “All of my extended family will be there in one form or another. My grandmother can’t make it out but she can watch it on local television which is really special.”
The finish line is sure to be a Scottfest with family, friends and the local community all turning out for him.
McGill has quickly settled back into US life, traveling home straight from France to beat the effect of jetlag, hanging out with family, friends and his dogs – which he says is “the most important thing” – and doing some long-neglected hope improvement tasks with his brother like hanging up a TV.
McGill knows the county portion of the course very well.
“That’s where I’ve been training for the last ten years,” he explains. “Looking at the start list there are fewer sprinters, so it may be less of a controlled race given how it turned out last year. Many of the tough climbs come at the beginning of the race, so if a very small break goes it could be a straightforward day. However, where it gets interesting is if no teams really commit to making it a sprint – if that happens it will get wild.”
McGill goes into the race off the back of a strong showing at the Poitou-Charentes stage race where he held the intermediate sprints jersey and a position high up on GC for most of the race.
“I feel good. I felt very good in France, I missed a few results and could have done a bit better with the feelings I had. Hopefully, I can carry that form into the weekend.”
Starting at 12:00 CT on the doorstep of team partner Kelly Benefits Strategies’ headquarters in Sparks, MD, the UCI Pro Series one-day race tackles a 121.4 mile (1,946m) rolling route that first traverses the beautiful Baltimore County, before turning back into the city for a four-lap finishing circuit. The riders are expected to enter Baltimore at 15:00 with an estimated finish time on Pratt St. and Market Pl. of 16:30.
Just like last year, the rolling circuit outside the city will suit breakaway experts as they compete for the intermediate prizes. The nature of the parcours could also trigger attacks from puncheurs, keen for the race not to finish in a large group sprint.
With more climbers on the start list than last year, teams like Lidl – Trek and Team Jayco AlUla will be eager to make the race as tough as possible in the early stages to shake the likes of Zingle. With plenty of opportunists on the start line, you will want to tune in from the very beginning of the race as the two hilly outer circuits on the county loop may prove a race-maker. All of the Human Powered Health riders have the puncheur capabilities to follow such moves if the race does indeed splinter like in 2022.
Even though we now have a better understanding of how this race will be run, you can never truly predict a classic. We can say that you won’t want to miss the action as it’s bound to be just as epic as last year.
The Human Powered Health Performance Lab is giving away two Performance Packs as part of the build-up. You can ride like a pro with three incredible prizes in each Pack – our official Pactimo team kit, a Wahoo ROAM bike computer and a Thorne Training Bundle with Beta Alanine-SR, Amino Complex and Creatine.
Go to bit.ly/HPHmccgiveaway to enter the draw.
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How to watch
US racing fans are spoilt for choice when it comes to viewing the Maryland Cycling Classic, presented by UnitedHealthcare. For fans attending in Baltimore, the race website has a list of FAQs that cover everything from race timings to parking, and Human Powered Health will also be on the ground capturing the behind-the-scenes vibes of race day.
The race can be watched through the website, nationally on the race website, and regionally on Maryland Public Television (MPT) which will offer up to six hours of coverage starting at 11:30 AM. It can also be followed on the Tour Tracker app.