After being delayed twice due to COVID-19 restrictions, the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic finally took place at the weekend.
The one-day event is the top-ranked road race in the U.S. and was a rare opportunity for homegrown talent to face off against the top pros in the peloton. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-Premier Tech) took a long-awaited win on the streets of Baltimore after edging out Nickolas Zukowsky (Human Powered Health) in a dash for the line.
With a tough, undulating course, the debut Maryland Cycling Classic was always going to be a difficult day out for the bunch.
Also read: Sep Vanmarcke triumphs at inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic
Aggressive racing saw a breakaway of 25 riders push clear of the pack early on, but a surge in pace saw that cut to just 14 with just over half of the race remaining.
Despite its best efforts, the peloton never saw the breakaway again and it would be one of the escapees that came away with the victory. The leading group continued to shed riders on the final circuits around Baltimore thanks to repeated attacks with just five riders making the final selection.
Vanmarcke took a chance and went early in the sprint but he just held off Zukowsky to take the win.
The peloton is strung out under the pressure of a high pace at the front.
The field for the Maryland Classic featured 16 teams with seven riders on each roster.
An early breakaway of 25 riders goes clear of the peloton.
U.S. champion Kyle Murphy got into the early breakaway but was distanced part way into the race.
Quinn Simmons beats Eder Frayer to the KOM point.
Fans cheer on the race from the side of the road.
The 196.9km race featured an undulating parcours.
The breakaway got a sizeable gap on the peloton in the end.
After setting off from Sparks, the race route took the riders on a scenic tour of Maryland before finishing in Baltimore.
The Maryland Classic was a chance for Kyle Murphy to show off his national champion’s kit in front of home crowds.
Fans watch on as they wait for the peloton to come through on the Baltimore circuit.
Sep Vanmarcke beat HUman Powered Health’s Nickolas Zukowsky to take his first win in three years.
Sep Vanmarcke is interviewed following his race victory.
Neilson Powless rounded out the top three to ensure some American representation on the podium.
Sep Vanmarcke celebrates a long-awaited victory.