Human Powered Health takes to the start line of America’s biggest one-day race on September 4, the Maryland Cycling Classic, presented by UnitedHealthcare. A strong team led by Dutch sprinter Arvid de Kleijn, Canadian Pier-André Coté and US champ Kyle Murphy will take on the best of the country’s cycling scene as well as homegrown and European WorldTour stars.
A long weekend of celebrating everything that’s great about cycling has been planned over the Labor Day weekend and kicked off on Thursday with Murphy presenting 50 bikes to high achieving students from the James McHenry School.
The festivities keep rolling through Saturday with the race’s official charity ride that will raise money for Human Powered Health’s charity partner, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation, in the UHCCF Bridges of Hope Ride p/b Kelly Benefits.
The importance of this weekend was highlighted by Murphy and managing director Charles Aaron in our recent lowdown of the race.
We caught up with de Kleijn and breakaway extraordinaire Robin Carpenter ahead of Sunday’s race in Baltimore to find out about their preparations and objectives.
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The rocket makes his US debut
As the only trip to the States for non-American riders this season, the Maryland Cycling Classic, presented by UnitedHealthcare is a unique opportunity for de Kleijn because not only is it his first time racing in America, it’s his first time ever in the country.
“I’m really excited to be here,” the 28-year-old said after landing in Maryland. “It’s my first time going to the US and I’m looking forward to having some good days with the team.”
There are plenty of big names on the start list who will battle for victory in Baltimore, including de Kleijn’s compatriot Dylan Groenewegen, Tour de France 2022 stage winner Michael Matthews (both Team BikExchange – Jayco), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel Premier – Tech), Toms Skujiņš (Trek – Segafredo) and Dušan Rajović (Team Corratec) to name a few.
The Dutchman is looking forward to a competitive race and with a super strong team around him, he’s hoping for the best.
“It’s the one and only race I am doing in the US, so I’m eager to get a good result.”
Racing on another continent is a new experience for de Kleijn. Before embarking on the 13-hour transatlantic flight he practised getting used to the time shift back home in the Netherlands.
“I tried to get into a sleeping rhythm that’s close to this time zone the last couple of days,” he explains. “I hope that will help me a bit with getting used to the time difference.”
Carpenter’s Labor Day weekend homecoming
Joining de Kleijn is Philadelphian Robin Carpenter, 364 days after he won stage two of the Tour of Britain, which has its opening day running parallel to the US classic. The 30-year-old is excited to be back on US roads and competing in his neighboring state.
“Any time we get to race in North America it’s special for the team,” he says. “We have a lot of sponsors from this continent and my parents can drive 90 minutes from where I grew up and watch the race.”
It’s going to be a true homecoming for Carpenter.
“I live in Boston now which is a bit further but my wife is also going to drive down,” he added. “Neither my parents nor wife have gotten to watch me race besides nationals for quite a long time and we get to see familiar friendly faces all across the weekend.”
As well as the victory and accompanying race champion jersey, there is an intermediate sprint, KOM and most aggressive rider competition to go for. Carpenter displayed his breakaway form on many occasions during last month’s Volta a Portugal.
“I’d love to be up the road on Sunday as much for myself as for the fans,” he says on his objectives. “They want to see us making the race happen so I don’t think you will see us standing back waiting for the race to come to us.”
Starting at 1:30 pm ET on the doorstep of team partner Kelly Benefits Strategies headquarters in Sparks, MD, the UCI Pro Series one-day race tackles a 120.4 mile (194km) rolling route that first traverses the beautiful Baltimore County before turning back into the city for a finishing circuit. The riders are expected to enter Baltimore at 4:30 pm with an estimated finish time on Pratt St. and Market Pl. of 6:00 pm.
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 bunch sprint.
Expect Trek – Segafredo to deploy this tactic as they’re not bringing a sprinter, so Skujiņš and Quinn Simmons will be keen to make the race hard. If this is to happen, Team BikExchange – Jayco may also try to send Matthews and Nick Schultz up the road. While competing for Canada at the Commonwealth Games in England, Coté showed that he can also follow a competitive move like this.
As you can see, such a fascinating, never-before-run race elicits all sorts of predictions and potential outcomes.
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 covers 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 live internationally on GCN+, nationally on the race website, and regionally on CW (WNUV-TV) from 1:30 – 6:15 pm ET. It can also be followed on the Tour Tracker app.
— Maryland Cycling Classic s/b UnitedHealthcare (@MarylandClassic) August 20, 2022