Hopkins enjoying view from the top
Kaden Hopkins believes Bermuda’s team left a massive imprint on the Caribbean Cycling Championships after claiming three gold medals in Havana, Cuba, last weekend.
Hopkins won two of those golds, in the elite men’s and under-23 time-trial, while Caitlin Conyers finished first in the elite women’s time-trial, capping off a superb opening day of the championships for the island.
Also representing Bermuda were Dominique Mayho in the elite men’s road race, Conor White in the elite men’s and under-23 time-trial and road race, and Gabriella Arnold in the elite women’s time-trial.
Hopkins said he trained harder than at any point of his fledgeling career for the competition, his first at the elite level, and believes he was in the “best shape of his life”.
He said: “Looking at my stats [in Durango, Colorado, where Hopkins attends Fort Lewis College], I knew I could be competitive unless I had any mishaps on the day. I really tried to stay in a positive mindset.”
It is been a long time since Bermuda have had cyclists standing on top of the podium in the elite races at the championships.
Indeed, Hopkins became the first rider to have held Caribbean titles in the junior and elite division, having won the junior race when it was held in Bermuda in 2018.
He finished the time-trial on Saturday in 45 min 16.629 sec, with Abner González, of Puerto Rico, coming second in 45:57.311, and Hasani Hennis, of Anguilla, finishing third in 47:03.156. All three riders were also competing in the under-23 category.
“Whenever I go away to compete for Bermuda, I’m always looking to do as well as I can,” Hopkins, 19, said.
“For that reason, I never really put a gold out of my mind even when it seems unrealistic.
“Bermuda has had guys win the time-trial before, but not for a while. My godfather, Kris Hedges, won it a couple of times, so I knew I could help put Bermuda back on the map.”
Hopkins also competed along side Mayho and White in the road race on Sunday, finishing 26th in elite and eighth in the under-23 race.
White came 24th in the elite and seventh in the under-23, while Mayho placed 43rd in the elite.
“In the past when Bermuda has gone to these elite events, it’s basically been Dominique racing by himself, so he’s always been at a disadvantage,” Hopkins added.
“Last year, Dominique had his best finish [seventh] when he had Conor with him. With all three of us, I knew it would be the strongest team Bermuda has put forward at an elite championships for a long time. We all know how to work well together.”
Hopkins said the searing heat and high humidity made the road race particularly challenging for the trio.
“It was probably the hardest race I have done even, although I’ve competed at bigger competitions,” he said.
“Racing in the Caribbean is a completely different ball game. When you race in the Caribbean, it’s basically full gas from the start until the finish.
“I’d come from Colorado while Conor had come from Ontario; it’s just dry and cold right now in both of those places.
“Jumping into 90 per cent humidity and 90F, well, it was tough being in those conditions with no acclimation time. We both ended up cramping pretty bad.”
In the elite women’s road race, Conyers finished sixth and Arnold placed eighth. Conyers won a bronze in the time-trial and silver in the road race in last year’s championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
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