Kaden Hopkins eyeing medal joy at inaugural Junior Pan Am Games
Kaden Hopkins is adamant Bermuda’s road cyclists can once again punch above their weight and challenge for medals at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.
The 22-year-old is part of Bermuda’s three-member road cycling contingent alongside Conor White and Nicholas Narraway, in South America within the island’s 11-member team also consisting of mountain bike cyclist Robin Horsfield, sailors Benn Smith and Adriana Penruddocke, swimmers Finn Moseley and Myeisha Sharrieff, tennis player Daniel Phillips and triathlete Nicholas Pilgrim.
While Bermuda will once again be considered among the smaller nations competing at the Games, Hopkins is steadfast in his belief that the team can upset the odds against some of the region’s powerhouses and build on previous encouraging performances at the UCI Road World Championships and Junior Caribbean Cycling Championships.
“Like with any championships, we are going there with the intention of winning,” said Hopkins, who will be competing alongside White in the time trial, with all three riders lining up for the road race. “We will be one of the smaller nations competing but we are at least targeting a medal.
“Obviously the time trial is an individual event but myself and Conor have done a lot of preparation and hours in that discipline.
“The road race will be very tactical but I have no doubt that if the three of us can get our tactics right in the race then for sure we can get a good result. To get on the podium and win some medals would be massive for the team,” he said.
“I think we have a great opportunity to do that in what is the first ever Junior Pan Am Games. There will be some very strong riders competing but I know we have a really good group of riders and it’s another chance to show the potential of Bermuda cycling.”
Ahead of the Games, which begin on Thursday and run until December 5, Hopkins joined Narraway in Colorado, United States, with the pair seizing the opportunity to undertake high altitude training.
As well as attempting to acclimatise to the conditions they are set to face in Colombia, the time training together also gave the pair a vital opportunity to hone their tactics ahead of the road race on December 3.
“I decided to headed over to Colorado to train at altitude in preparation for Columbia,” added Hopkins, who heads into the Games on the back of a gruelling ten-day 1,200-kilometre Tour of Guadeloupe campaign, in which he finished 21st in the overall classification, as well as fourth in both the mountain competition and under-23 final standings.
“It’s been a long season and Guadeloupe was certainly the hardest of them all this year, but after a few days off the bike, I’m now ready to go again and I’m excited for the challenge in Colombia.
Hopkins underlined the value of training together and developing tactics ahead of the competition.
“Being in Colorado gave me a chance to meet up with Nick and allowed us to train together which has been great. He is looking really strong at the moment and so I think we’re looking good ahead of the Games.
“To be able to train together ahead of the Games is really important. We know how each other rides pretty well but it definitely helps with chemistry and obviously competing together in the road race means we can prepare properly together.
“Ideally it would have been great if Conor could have been there with us as well but I know his main focus for the Games is the time trial and then he will join us in the road race which is great to have all of three of us in that race.
“Tactics are obviously key in a road race and so the more time we have to prepare together ahead of the Games can only be beneficial. All the teams will only have a maximum of four riders; we; have three and so it will be a really tactical race for sure. It’s great that we can plan early and have a real understanding of those tactics heading into the race.”