Hopkins denies Mayho historic title
Kaden Hopkins finally feels fulfilled after denying Dominique Mayho a record fourth Sinclair Packwood Memorial title, pipping his rival to top honours in an exhilarating sprint finish.
Much of the build up was centred around the intriguing battle between the rivals and so it played out on the course as Hopkins made his move at the pivotal point, passing Mayho with the finishing line in sight on Cedar Avenue to take victory in 23min 47sec, just two-tenths of a second ahead of his rival. Conor White completed the podium in 23:49.3s.
Despite being a previous winner of the race, having taken top honours at the age of 17, in 2017, Hopkins conceded he felt he still had a point to prove with the omission of Mayho on that day.
However, having prevailed against the defending champion this time around, Hopkins can finally put to bed any doubts of the validity of the accomplishment of taking victory on the biggest local stage.
“I had a feeling it was going to come down to a sprint finish and luckily Dom was burnt out by the line and I still had enough to make my move and go when the time was right,” said Hopkins, who rides for Fort Lewis College in Colorado and is coached by former professional racing cyclist Robbie Ventura.
“Today was always going to be harder having Dom back in the race, but there was also the threat of Conor White who kept on attacking and all of my team-mates, so the race was super competitive.
“Luckily, I had my team-mates around to do a lot of the work for me and so I could just focus on following Dom because I knew he was the best sprinter out there.
“We pressured him into initiating the sprint earlier than he would have wanted and although he had a lot left for the finish, I could use my energy when it mattered most.
“They say once you’ve won this race once you don’t have to win it again, but for me I still had a point to prove. Now I’ve won it with Dom involved as well, I definitely feel fulfilled.
“Being on Bermuda Day the environment throughout the race is unlike anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. As soon as we reached Hamilton, the streets were lined with thousands of people and everyone is screaming; it’s just incredible.
“Coming over the finish line with that atmosphere was so special; it’s a truly amazing feeling.”
Reflecting on the disappointment of missing out on rewriting the history books, Mayho, riding for VT Construction-Madison, conceded he had no answer for the tactics employed by Winners Edge, particularly the parts played by youngsters Nicholas Narraway and Alexander Miller in helping their team-mate to the title.
“Winners Edge had four guys at the front and it was just myself and Conor White trying to combat that,” Mayho said.
“They took turns attacking at the front and I was forced to chase each time, which in the end took its toll. By the end, I had to hit it earlier than I wanted to and heading into the final corner Kaden closed the gap up and at the sprint I just ran out of steam.
“Those guys rode the best race I’ve ever seen them do. Their tactics were spot on and it all played into Kaden’s hands as he was allowed to sit on my wheel and let his team-mates attack, it was just non-stop chasing for me.
“Kaden’s level of performance didn’t shock me, but I was taken aback a little by Nick and Alexander. I know they’re strong riders but I’ve never seen them race quite as tactically as that.
“Most races you just see them racing hard but they really raced with their heads. They had a plan and executed it amazingly well.”
The performances of his rivals was met with mixed feelings for Mayho, who is not prepared to concede defeat in the quest for a record-breaking fourth title just yet.
“It gives me mixed feelings because on the one hand it makes me incredibly proud to see the young guys ride with that much maturity but on the other it’s annoying because they used those tactics against me,” Mayho added,
“I need some more team-mates like that; perhaps I should try and poach them for next year.
“I’m gutted not to have been able to clinch that fourth title this time around but luckily I think I’m young enough to come back and try again next year; I’ve still got time.”
Miller and Narraway were rewarded for their endeavours, taking the top-two positions in the junior male race. Miller crossed the line in 23:52.3, narrowly ahead of Narraway in 23:52.6.
Tommy Marshall completed the podium, taking third-place in a time of 24:49.8.
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