Sep Vanmarcke, left, holds off Nickolas Zukowsky and Neilson Powless to win the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic. (Photo: Maryland Cycling Classic/KOM Sports Marketing)

Belgian cyclist Sep Vanmarcke of Team Israel-Premier Tech won the first-ever Maryland Cycling Classic supported by UnitedHealthcare on Sept. 4 in Baltimore.

America’s top-ranked professional road cycling race took 110 riders from 16 teams through a tough, hilly 121.7-mile course starting at Kelly Benefits in Sparks and finishing along East Pratt Street and Market Place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor District in front of thousands of cheering fans.

“My main strength is Classics, ‘short kickers’, technical courses and demanding races,” said Vanmarcke. “That’s exactly what we got today.”

Canadian Nickolas Zukowsky of Human Powered Health finished second, followed by American Neilson Powless of EF Education-EasyPost in third.

“It’s been really nice to have an American event at this level back in the States providing a platform for inspiration for American fans and upcoming future riders, young kids, and also teams that don’t necessarily always get an opportunity to race against World Tour riders,” Powless said.

Terry Hasseltine, president of Sport and Entertainment Corp. of Maryland which owns the event, confirmed that race organizers have a three-year commitment with Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body of cycling, which lasts until 2024 at a minimum.

“The Maryland Cycling Classic has a strong business strategy for our women’s road race and plan to launch it next year,” Hasseltine said. “In year one, our goal was to get the event anchored and lay the right foundational steps so we can grow in 2023. Our number one priority is to add a women’s race in year two, and to add multiple days to the Maryland Cycling Classic as we progress. The woman’s race has always been a part of our business plan.”