Cycling will return to Baltimore when world-class riders participate in the second Maryland Cycling Classic on Sunday.

The race begins in Baltimore County at noon. It will pass by an estimated 85,000 spectators and will feature elite talent, including Tour de France participants, world champions, national champions and Olympians, from 30 countries.

The route for the race will be similar to the one in 2022, and weather will add to its difficulty. Temperatures are expected to reach close to 95 degrees. The 121.4-mile (196-kilometer) course begins in Sparks before ending in the Inner Harbor from 3-5:30 p.m. along Pratt Street. It starts by taking riders along the rural roads and hills near Prettyboy Reservoir before ramping up in Baltimore City with fierce turns, signaling an intense finish. Multiple road closures in the city this weekend will accommodate the race.

“This is an exciting time in the Baltimore region,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said at a press conference Friday alongside Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. “We are highlighting some incredible assets, incredible athleticism. It’s an exciting time for anyone in the Baltimore region and this state to come and see all that we have to display.”

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Simon Yates, the fourth-place finisher in the Tour de France, will compete in the Maryland Cycling Classic. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On Thursday, organizers hosted a school visit and bike giveaway at William Paca Elementary School and a welcome reception at the Reginald Lewis Museum to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in cycling. It featured trailblazers in the sport such as Nelson Vails, the first Black person to win a cycling medal in the Olympics; former U.S. national champion Rahsaan Bahati and Belizean American cyclist Cory Williams. Friday featured a community bike ride at Patterson Park led by event ambassadors and Scott.

“The Maryland Cycling Classic is not just a cycling race; it’s a celebration of athleticism, camaraderie, the power of community and, most importantly for me, the best city in Maryland and the best region of any region across the United States of America,” Scott said.

Some of the top names from the Tour de France will be riding Sunday, including 2023 fourth-place finisher Simon Yates and stage winner Michael Woods. After an impressive appearance at the Tour, Neilson Powless, who finished third in the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic, will be leading Team EF Education-EasyPost.

“Last year honestly surprised me how hard the race was,” Powless said. “I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be quite as hard as it was last year but, coming into it this year, I’m very ready for it to be aggressive from the gun.”

Another rider to watch is Scott McGill, a 2022 Tour of Portugal stage winner and a Fallston native. McGill will race for Human Powered Health and is the only rider with Maryland ties participating. That’s helped him in his preparation.

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“I’ve been training on especially the upper part of the course for the best part of 10 years on the roads out in Baltimore County,” McGill said. “It’s going to be a hard race for sure, especially in the beginning. Hopefully I’m used to the heat and humidity. I think it’ll surprise a lot of people how hot 95 degrees feels here versus some other places.”

Matteo Jorgenson, the second-ranked U.S. rider and 39th in the UCI world rankings, will also be watched closely. This is Jorgenson’s first race since leaving the Puy de Dôme during Stage 16 because of injury.

If you can’t be one of the thousands watching the race Sunday in downtown Baltimore, you can check it out online. The entire Maryland Cycling Classic will be livestreamed on CGN+ and it’ll be broadcasted on Maryland Public TV.

Aron Yohannes joined The Baltimore Banner in June 2023 as a reporter. He previously reported on trending topics in sports for The Oregonian. He began his career covering the Milwaukee Bucks from 2012-2016 for SB Nation before working for the Seattle Seahawks from 2016-2018. Aron is Eritrean and a native of the north side of Milwaukee.

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