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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Maryland Cycling Classic Takes Center Stage with World-Class Cyclists

Cycling fans and others interested in the sport will have the opportunity to view the first Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare on Sunday, September 4, 2022. This cycling classic takes place throughout Baltimore County and the city of Baltimore offering family fun and excitement for all.

Featuring 16 teams of professional, world class athletes from over 20 countries, the Maryland Cycling Classic is a top-ranked, one-day professional cycling race. It will feature Tour de France winners and Olympians, as well as national and international racing champions who will race on a 120-mile route taking riders from the rolling pastoral countryside of Baltimore County to the urban landscape and waterfront of central Baltimore.

The classic starts at 1:30 p.m. at Kelly Benefits, 1 Kelly Way, in Sparks, Md. This free, family-friendly event encourages spectators to watch on the ground as fans around the world tune-in on various broadcast and livestream options.

Athletes and teams will arrive, set-up and prepare for the race 60 to 90 minutes before the start. Fans will be able to watch the preparations, see state-of-the-art bikes, talk with some of the racing giants and possibly get autographs. All cyclists must sign-in on the main stage where the announcer asks them questions and they  engage with members of the crowd providing information about the upcoming race.

One of the racing world’s most accomplished cyclists and one of the few African Americans to reach elite level status is Rahsaan Bahati who serves as an ambassador for the Maryland Cycling Classic. Bahati is also an announcer and color commentator who will keep fans updated on the racing action.

Growing up in Compton, Ca., Bahati started bicycling at the tender age of 11 when a teacher introduced him to track cycling which he enjoyed. His parents encouraged his participation in the sport to keep him busy and out of trouble. The family’s move to Carson, Ca. put him within blocks of the famed Los Angeles Velodrome where he began racing and perfecting his craft. After racing professionally for 18 years and rising to U.S. national champion in criterium, Bahati retired from the sport, however, he still loves cycling and continues his participation by working with inner city youth.

He recalls, “Growing up in cycling, traveling all over the world and never seeing someone who looked like me was painful. I was the ‘raisin in the milk’ for many years. So, I want to assure that youth of color know that there’s a place for them in elite cycling if they choose to pursue it.”  

Bahati founded the Bahati Foundation, a non-profit organization, to encourage young people to consider cycling as a fun sport and possibly as a career. Bahati also provides a role model for youth who have never seen an African American cyclist on the national or international stage. He looks forward to the Metropolitan Cycling Classic to be with professional cyclists and fans of cycling.

Coming into the finish at approximately 4:30 p.m., at the cross streets of East Pratt and Market Street, there will be four laps of a 7.4 mile circuit of central Baltimore. The diverse circuit has 19 turns with short climbs and features various neighborhoods, including HarborEast, Fells Point, North Broadway, Washington Hill, Old Town, Mount Vernon and various downtown locales. The flat run-in on East Pratt past Light Street and the National Aquarium is slated to be one of the best locations to watch the action.

In addition, the finish also offers four passages along with the exciting color and speed of the cyclists as they race at more than 35 mph. Coupled with the accompanying motorcade, this portion of the race presents one of the most unique energies in all of sport. Near the finish will be an exhibitor area as well as two large screens broadcasting live race coverage. The race is estimated to conclude at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by the awards ceremonies.

The Power Plant Live District and its bars have been designated as the unofficial fans’ zones and provide an ideal place to hang out while the cyclists are racing in the county. Live coverage on the race’s Mobile App “Tour Tracker” integrates video and GPS tracking of the race. Baltimore’s CW channel will also air the race live.

The Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare is part of a three-day weekend of community celebration of health and wellness. The weekend will feature participatory events, an interactive festival, local foods and beverages along with other fun and family-friendly activities. The race is endorsed by Maryland and Baltimore civic leaders and is owned and operated by Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland. For more information on the Maryland Cycling Classic visit www.marylandcyclingclassic.us.

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