Kaden Hopkins builds on positive start in Guadeloupe
Kaden Hopkins continued his encouraging campaign in the Tour of Guadeloupe, finishing 30th in the third stage yesterday.
Having made a promising start in the ten-stage event, placing third in the 4.7-kilometre time-trial on Friday before twice overcoming bike problems to finish fifteenth in the 147km road race, Hopkins was aiming to close the gap on the leaders in the challenging 152km course from Deshaies to Capesterre Belle-Eau.
Having positioned himself within the leading pack for the first 40km, the field became disjointed after the initial climb, with a small group seizing the initiative to break away.
Despite, the peloton containing the leading jersey riders Mickaël Guichard and Gwen Leclainche, a seeming unwillingness to chase down the breakaway all but ended Hopkins’s chances of challenging, with his focus instead on those around him in the overall standings instead of attempting to reduce the gap himself.
The 22-year-old ultimately crossed the line among the peloton in a time of 3hr 49min 35sec more than six minutes adrift of stage winner Polychronis Tzortzakis, of the Kuwait Pro Cycling Team.
The result saw Hopkins, who is guest riding for Dominican Republic team Inteja, drop five places in the general classification to 20th, a little under 12 minutes adrift of leader Stefan Bennett. The Bermudian rider also sits fifth in the under-23 classification, 9:47 adrift of Clément Braz Afonso’s cumulative time of 10:53:20.
“Today was a really strange stage,” said Hopkins. “All of the leading riders were in the peloton and so I was focusing on not letting any of them go because they are my main rivals in the overall standings.
“However, when the small break got off the front, none of the leading riders or teams put in a chase when the race blew apart on the first climb and so they finished more than six minutes ahead of the peloton.”
Hopkins is now gearing up for another stern challenge in the fourth stage today, which consists of more gruelling climbs across a 137km course from Vieux-Habitants to Lamentin.
While the aspiration remains to always challenge for a podium place himself, Hopkins is also well aware of the need to perform a crucial support role for the team’s leading rider in the overall standings, Benjamin Prades, who is thirteenth and a little more than 8½ minutes adrift of Bennett.
“It is going to be a very, very hard day, but I do all I can to help my general classification leader [Prades] as much as possible,” Hopkins said.
“There will be very long and steep climbs, so it will be a very big test, but hopefully the team can come away with a strong result tomorrow.”