Professional hopeful Kaden Hopkins adjusting to life in Spain
Kaden Hopkins is aiming to make an immediate impression as part of the Equipo Essax roster as he continues to settle in to life in Spain.
Having enjoyed a meteoric rise in cycling in recent seasons to become one of the island’s most dominant forces, the 20-year-old took a huge step towards realising his dream of joining the professional ranks after signing a one-year deal with the elite under-23 team of the illustrious Spanish Sax Cycling Club at the end of last year.
Ahead of a possible maiden race outing with his new team, Hopkins is hoping to hit the ground running and start living up to the expectations already placed on him.
“It’s just a case of getting the last bits like my race licence sorted out and then hopefully I’ll be able to race this weekend,” he said. “It will be my first official race with the team, which is pretty exciting.
“I’ve been part of the training camps and the director of the team has been happy with how I’ve been doing, which has given me a huge amount of confidence.
“I’ve settled really quickly and the team are all really great, which has helped a lot. It’s a very professional set-up and incredibly well organised. I don’t have to worry about any of the mechanical stuff, my food or anything else, which takes the stress off and means we can focus purely on racing.
“Obviously, I’ve been brought here to a job which brings more pressure, but it allows you to try to do what you have to properly.
“People spoke highly of me to the team before I came here and so I know I have to try and live up to those expectations.”
Those initial expectations may have been heightened further after Hopkins’s highly encouraging Vuelta Independencia campaign in the Dominican Republic before his relocation to Spain.
Among his endeavours, he earned a superb third-stage victory, a hard-earned third place in stage two and six top-ten finishes from the seven stages in total, sealing a top-ten finish in the general classification standings and second in the overall points standings.
“I was definitely happy with how everything went out in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “I feel like my form was better than ever before.
“I had no setbacks in terms of crashes or mechanical issues; everything just went well for me.
“The stage win was definitely the highlight, without a doubt. It showed where I was in terms of being able to compete with those guys and I definitely didn’t feel like an outsider at all.
“I felt great on the bike throughout the entire week and it gave me real confidence before heading over to Spain.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, Hopkins is hoping to make the most of the opportunity handed to him, including being able to fully integrate into all aspects of team life.
“I know the races will be a lot bigger than what I’ve done before, but I know my first year with the team will be about gaining experience and hopefully my form can carry on,” he said.
“The hardest thing has actually been the language barrier. I’m trying to learn Spanish because after cycling I think it’s one of the biggest things I need to do.
“It is a major part of being able to adapt to life here and I think it’s vitally important for me to show I want to be here and be fully part of the team.”