In a little more than a month, the long-awaited Maryland Cycling Classic will be returning to the Baltimore area. 

In preparation for the second annual event, Robin Carpenter, one of the nation’s top cyclists, came to town to preview the racecourse. Last year in the inaugural cycling classic, he finished 12th overall and anticipates the excitement, competitiveness and pure thrill that awaits this year’s race.

The upcoming cycling classic will be meaningful for Carpenter, considering it’s one of the few opportunities he’ll get to compete in front of his wife and immediate family.

“It’s huge for me…being able to participate in a race of this level,” said Carpenter, who competes professionally for L39ION of Los Angeles.

Robin Carpenter of L39ION of Los Angeles is slated to race in the 2023 Maryland Cycling Classic on September 3, 2023. Photo credit: Kit Karzen/L39ION of Los Angeles.

“This is the only one at this level in the United States right now, so being able to have that here on the East Coast where I’m more local and can compete in front of the people I love is the biggest thing for me.”

The race, which will be a replica of last year’s 124-mile course, will feature a diverse array of teams with seven participants on each team. 

Carpenter, a Philadelphia native, recalled the 2022 Maryland Cycling Classic being a well-run race. He was particularly intrigued by the scenery in the portion of the route that ran through suburban/rural northern Baltimore County, including Prettyboy Reservoir. That segment of the course is also the most challenging— yet dynamic, he pointed out.

“Probably the most important part [of the race] was the loops around the reservoir because you do most of it twice out there and there’s basically no flat sections in that area,” Carpenter said.

“It’s kind of just super up and down and never really respite. You’re either going up the hill or you’re streaming down the other side at 45 miles an hour. That’s probably the hardest part of the race but it’s also probably the most beautiful. The scenery around there is great.”

Ending on a circuit in downtown Baltimore is a perfect culmination to the well-balanced course, he added. 

The 31-year-old is coming off a final stage win of the Redlands Classic in California. He boasts several career-defining victories, including a win in Canada’s biggest stage race, the Tour of Alberta (2016), and stage wins at the Tour of Britain (2021), Tour of Utah (2016) and USA Pro Challenge (2014). 

He’s also been a past winner of two other smaller American races – the Joe Martin Stage Race of Arkansas (2017) and Cascade Classic of Oregon (2017).

Carpenter arrived in Baltimore on July 17, 2023 and stayed for two days before catching a flight to Chicago for a race that was scheduled to begin July 21. He took the time he was here to preview the course. 

“Being able to come to Baltimore, which is kind of in my back yard from growing up, and being the spokesperson for the Peloton, if you will, was part of the goal here,” Carpenter said. 

According to Maryland Cycling Classic officials, the route will start at Kelly Benefits in Sparks, Md., “spanning the beautiful rolling pastoral countryside of Baltimore County into the diverse urban landscape and waterfront of central Baltimore and Harbor East district before finishing along East Pratt Street and Market Place in Baltimore’s world-famous Inner Harbor area.”

Though it will be the same as last year’s, Carpenter said it never hurts to get a reminder of the route patterns. He and a small crew also filmed videos for Maryland Cycling Classic’s social media platforms.

“The course hasn’t changed between last year and this year, so I have all of my memories of how the race played out last year,” said Carpenter, a Philadelphia native who now resides in the Boston area. “The [preview] was more important last year than it was for this year.”

Carpenter has set his sights on improving his finish time from last year.

“I’d love to finish in the top five,” he said. “It’s a big race, and probably the biggest race in the U.S. right now. People will be coming in fit and motivated.”

World-class athletes from 17 professional teams consisting of seven riders each are scheduled to race. 

So far, WorldTour teams Trek-Segafredo and EF Education-EasyPost, America’s top ProTour series team Human Powered Health and Novo Nordisk, as well as U.S. Pro Continental teams L39ION of Los Angeles and Hagens Berman Axeon, and international squads Toronto Hustle and Team Medellin-EPM, have been confirmed.

The Maryland Cycling Classic festivities will begin Aug. 31 and will culminate with the race which is slated for Sept. 3, 2023.

Demetrius Dillard
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