Hopkins makes strong start in Santa Domingo
Kaden Hopkins fared best on what proved a days of mixed fortunes for the island's top riders in the first stage of the seven-day Vuelta Independencia Stage Race in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, today.
In a challenging 156-kilometres race, Hopkins was the top finisher in the combined Bermuda and Puerto Rico Development Team with an impressive performance that saw him finish in eighth place, in the same time as six other riders, just 22 seconds behind race winner and home rider Nelson Ismael Sanchez. As a result, the 19-year-old takes the leaders jersey in the Under 23 category.
Hopkins was quick to give credit to team-mate Dominique Mayho, who was part of a 70 mile breakaway and eventually finished ninth, one minute and 15 seconds behind the winner.
“Dom and I got into a break after about 25 miles with about 15 riders. As the race got longer riders started to get dropped,” said Hopkins.
“We took turns getting a feed for us from our team car and then there was an attack at about 90 miles.
“I think there were about nine of us by then and Dom got on the front and pulled us back. With about three kilometres to go, Dom gapped a little.
“I stayed with the front group, then one guy got off the front and it was just a fight to the finish.”
Mayho, who has resumed racing seriously again this season, and is based in the United States, was more than pleased with his ride.
“Kaden is the strongest rider on the team, so our team will work to keep him in the lead in the under-23 category,” he said.
“It was a tough day today being in such a long break, but we worked well together. I am enjoying being back into racing like this.”
Unfortunately, it was not all good news as Hopkins and Mayho's team-mate Conor White, who was in the main field a few minutes behind the breakaway was in a bad crash around 120 kilometres into the race.
It appears a rider struck White's front wheel causing him to crash and sustain a head injury, which resulted in him being taken to hospital.
At press time there was no information on his condition and as he was unable to finish the stage, meaning he will not be able to continue in the race.
With six tough stages still to be contested it is early days, but the positive start from Hopkins and Mayho will see them, and Puerto Rica team-mates Julian Molina, Julian Otero and Brian Leon working to keep Hopkins in his under-23 leader's jersey.
The second stage tomorrow will be a flat 162-kilometres race.