Hopkins takes positives from season opener
Kaden Hopkins endured mixed fortunes in his cycling season opener at the Pinal County Vuelta A Santa Catalina event in Arizona last weekend.
Competing against a strong field, Hopkins found himself well-placed within a chasing group of the road race until he suffered a flat tyre before an arduous final climb ultimately resulting in him crawling over the line in 25th position.
There was better fortune in the criterium however, as Hopkins secured an impressive second-place finish, leaving him satisfied with his first outing.
“It was my first race of the season and while it wasn't a super important one, it was a good indication of the level that I'm at,” Hopkins said.
“Someone at college told me it was regarded as one of the hardest road races in Arizona and so I decided to go and compete.
“It was a shame to get the flat tyre during the road race, but it was a really good experience. There was a lot of professional riders and teams competing and so the levels were really strong.
“Coming second in the criterium is really encouraging. Some of the professional riders went full gas from the start and I managed to keep up and lead the pace from the front. On the last lap, I decided to go for it and managed to create a lot of space to the riders behind me.
“At the beginning of the season you expect to be off the pace and so it was a good start for me and an encouraging indication.”
The race represented another step in progression for Hopkins, in his second year at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, as he continues working towards strong aspirations of pursuing a professional cycling career.
While admitting to missing out on the usual antics of a 20-year-old student, Hopkins concedes he is happy to avoid the possible temptations of partying as he focuses on fulfilling his ambition.
“Cycling here in Colorado is great and the training has given me some amazing gains,” he said. “It's a huge benefit to me and where I'm based is a real hot spot for professional cycling. There's guys involved on the World Tour and former world champions; it's amazing to be among them.
“I'm able to immerse myself in the cycling here. It's pretty remote where I am in Durango and away from the major cities, so it's pretty easy to stay focused on training.
“It doesn't fell like a major sacrifice not going out and partying. It feels worthwhile when I'm training and competing. I miss being around my friends back home, but I know I have to have to right mindset if I want to pursue a career in cycling.”