The opening race of the Maryland Cycling Classic was won by Sep Vanmarcke. The race was scheduled for Sunday, 3rd September in Baltimore. This is the first win for the Israel-Premier Tech rider in the past three years. On the other hand, Nickolas Zukowsky (Human Powered Health) came in second place while Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) followed in third.
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Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) managed to finish in the fourth position. Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) made his way to the fifth position by sprinting in the final 2.4 km. In the last 800 meters, Piccolo picked up his game and tried to take the win until Vanmarcke struck with his winning move. Inside the last 300 meters, Vanmarcke fought off the trio to claim the day.
Even though everyone had their eyes set on the major teams to claim the win, nobody was expecting that a decisive move would come in the last 20 km. Although the track required extra effort, teams like Israel-Premier Tech and Trek-Segafredo were giving it their all. Their efforts made it more challenging for others to compete.
Despite the tough racing conditions, Sep Vanmarcke showed immense dedication towards his goal of finishing first. While talking to the media at the end of the match, he was heard describing the day’s events:
We thought it wouldn’t be a sprint because the first part was demanding, But the final lap didn’t seem to be too hard. So we thought it could be a sprint.
He continued to add that as the race evolved, things quickly took a turn:
Anyway, pretty soon in the race, there was a big breakaway and because every team had a couple of guys involved, the peloton had to let it go. And from then on, actually, from the start, it became a hard race.
Neilson Powless almost had the same experience. He termed the day “bittersweet” for him:
It’s bittersweet. It’s really nice to be on the podium of the American race and I’m super happy to be here but it was so close to being in the first place. But I’ll take this for now
Belgian by birth, Sep Vanmarcke began his professional riding career in 2011 with the team Garmin–Cervélo. His biggest career win so far has been at the Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France, 2019. His PCS ranking is 269, UCI World Ranking 665 while overall ranking is 569. He currently rides for the World Team Israel–Premier Tech. With his latest win at the Maryland Cycling Classic, he managed to add 125 points to his PCS ranking and 200 points to the UCI World Ranking. Sep has ridden a total of 6397 km in the past 39 days.
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How It Happened
Maryland Cycling Classic finally happened after 4 long years of planning and facing multiple issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 112 riders competed to cross the finish line first in Baltimore’s Inner Harbour.
As soon as the race began, 25 riders made a breakaway without wasting a second. This breakaway included David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Eder Frayre (L39ION), Aaron Wade (EvoPro), Kyle Murphy and Nick Zukowsky (Human Powered Health), Tiano Da Silva (ProTouch) and Robigzon Oyola and Walter Vargas (Medellin), Michael Pincus (Team Skyline), Eder Frayre (L39ION), Darren Rafferty (Axeon Hagens Berman).
The breakaway leading moves came in from Neilson Powless, Magnus Cort, Andrea Piccolo, and Tom Scully (EF Education-EasyPost), Quinn Simmons, Toms Skujins, and Alexander Kamp (Trek-Segafredo), Nick Schultz, Damien Howson, and Alexandre Balmer (BikeExchange) and Sep Vanmarcke, Krists Neilands and Jenthe Biermans of team Israel-Premier Tech.
Sam Boardman (L39ION) also carried on his chase for the first 50 km, but he could not get past the breakaway. The race leaders gained four minutes on the peloton with just 125 km left. The track was tough with many hilly climbs and the heat and humidity did not make things any easier.
Simmons won the KOM prize while Biermans settled for the intermediate sprint bonus. It was evident that one of the race leaders will be taking the win but Otto Vergaerde (Trek-Segafredo), Jens Keukeleire and Simon Carr (EF-EasyPost) were just 2 minutes behind the leading group.
Inside the final lap, Zukowsky, Powless, Skujinš, and Vanmarcke fought for the final win. Piccolo also followed the group desperately before he decided to help Powless. But it all came down to the winning sprint by Sep Vanmarcke who seized the opportunity.
|01||Sep Vanmarcke||Israel-Premier Tech||04:34:45|
|02||Nickolas Zukowsky||Human Powered Health||+ 00|
|03||Neilson Powless||EF Education-EasyPost||+ 00|
|04||Toms Skujins||Trek-Segafredo||+ 01|
|05||Andrea Piccolo||EF Education-EasyPost||+ 05|
|06||Magnus Cort||EF Education-EasyPost||+ 01:06|
|07||Jenthe Biermans||Israel-Premier Tech||+ 01:06|
|08||Quinn Simmons||Trek-Segafredo||+ 01:11|
|09||Alexandre Balmer||Team BikeExchange-Jayco||+ 01:11|
|10||Robigzon Oyola||Team Medellin-EPM||+ 01:11|
Featured Image Via YouTube/ Cannondale Bicycles