Maryland’s robust cycling community that has been longing for a major event in the region has gotten its wish.
The Union Cycliste International, the worldwide governing body of cycling, recently announced the first Maryland Cycling Classic will take place Sept. 6, 2020 in the Baltimore area, and talks of a course design are already ongoing. The event will be part of the UCI’s ProSeries calendar for the next three years. The bid for the event was made by the Maryland Sports Commission and its partners.
“It’s a reality,” Maryland Sports executive director Terry Hasseltine said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 9. “The Maryland Cycling Classic is officially on the ProSeries tour. We’re extremely excited to get working on the logistics that get put into putting together one of the best routes we can [and] working with state, city, and council leadership around the Greater Baltimore region to ensure … riders have a world-class experience and a world-class destination.”
Hasseltine was named executive director of Maryland Sports in July 2008 and was awarded the Sport Tourism Executive of the Year by the National Association of Sports Commissions in 2017. Hasseltine believes that this could be a huge opportunity for the area to enjoy professional cycling and bring attention to Maryland as tourist destination.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity here in the state of Maryland and the greater Baltimore region,” Hasseltine said.
Ben King, who was in Baltimore recently to promote the event, will participate in the Maryland Cycling Classic. He began his career back in 2008 out of Charlottesville, Va., is now a road racing cyclist and a member of the UCI World Team: Team Dimension Data.
King believes that an event of this magnitude has the potential to attract a lot of competition, create a great experience for fans and give the sport a chance to gain new following.
“It’s absolutely massive,” King said. “The East Coast has an incredible cycling community. Cycling is a social sport, a community sport and I think the fans and riders on the East Coast have just been starving for an elite-level event like this where they can get up close and personal with the people they’re following, mostly racing in Europe throughout the season.”
Considering that King has been a pro rider for about a decade, he has never really participated in a cycling event as a spectator. But he did touch on how the atmosphere created by fans helps the cyclists as they ride along the courses.
“What I see is people out on the course, massive crowds having a party,” King said. “It’s a tailgate atmosphere. People are camped out enjoying drinks and food with their friends and cheering for the riders as they come by. That creates a really cool atmosphere for the riders when there are hundreds of thousands of people lining the roads and shouting at you every time you come by. I know the people are really excited to be there and witness it.”
The Maryland Cycling Classic will headline a three-day celebration during Labor Day weekend. Hasseltine believes this event could be one of the biggest in state history from a tourism perspective while also being a perfect way to promote a healthy and active lifestyle to those within the community.
“People want to put this on their bucket list as something they want to see, something they want to do,” Hasseltine said. “Hopefully this becomes an annual tradition here in Maryland that people look forward to and make sure that Maryland is on their travel list and cycling is at the epicenter of the reason that brought them to Maryland.”
For more from Hasseltine and King, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Terry Hasseltine