Kaden Hopkins off to solid start in Vuelta Independencia
Kaden Hopkins made a promising start to his Vuelta Independencia Under-23 division title defence in the Dominican Republic today.
Kicking off the opening stage in Santo Domingo, the Bermuda rider once again competing with the Mixed Puerto Rico/Bermuda team, clinched a ninth-place finish in the general classification finishing the 156.2-kilometre leg in 3hr 27min 26sec.
That leaves Hopkins 3:39 off of Geovanny Garcia, of EDA Contractor, who won Stage 1 in a time of 3:23:47, ahead of Julio Padilla and Yurgen Ramirez.
However, more importantly for the 20-year-old is that his performance in the first of seven stages has left him in third place in the Under-23 classification whose leader, Steven Manuel Elena Polanco, finished with the same time as the leadersin the general classification.
Meanwhile, the Mixed Puerto Rico/Bermuda team find themselves in seventh place after the first stage, 3:53 off the pace of present classification leaders Venezuela Pais De Futuro — who had a combined time of 10:15:04 — heading into the 162km second stage tomorrow.
Hopkins, who took a huge step towards realising his dream of joining the professional cycling ranks after being signed to Equipo Essax for next year, is aiming to defend the crown he won in March last year.
Supported superbly by team-mates that included compatriot Dominique Mayho as well as Julian Otero, Brian Leon and Julian Molina, Hopkins claimed the under-23 jersey as well as an eighth-place finish in the general classification after 27 hours of racing and more than 635 miles covered.
In their debut outing as a unit, the Puerto Rico-Bermuda Development Team secured numerous top-ten placings to ultimately claim a fourth-place finish out of 13 teams.