Kaden Hopkins plays part as Equipo Essax clinch success in Portugal
Kaden Hopkins was proud to play an integral role in helping Gabriel Rojas and Equipo Essax clinch victory in the Volta Portugal race series.
Having claimed the leader’s yellow jersey after the penultimate stage of the four-race series, Costa Rican Rojas, headed into the final day with a slender nine-second advantage over Sergio Chumil Gonzalez.
Despite a barrage of attacks from his main rivals, Rojas, supported superbly by an astute ride from his team-mates, crossed the line in fourth, just eight seconds adrift of Raul Casalderrey Esperon’s winning time of 4hr 3min 31secs, crucially maintaining an 11-second advantage over David Delgado Higueruelo in the final general classification, to clinch victory, as well as the jersey for best climber.
“Our squad showed great composure at this prestigious event and managed to take the overall win,” said Hopkins, who finished 28th in the general classification, just ten seconds adrift of Rojas’s combined time of 13:41:51.
“The first two stages were pretty well suited for me in terms of terrain so they were my main targets in the race. The first stage didn't play out the way we wanted but the second stage was better though.
“The next day was the queen stage of the race and my goal was to deliver our general classification leader to the last climb of the day. I protected him as much as I could before the last climb. He went on to win the stage and move into the overall lead.
“On the last day it was just a game of defence. Our team controlled the threatening moves of the other leading riders. With 15km to go we closed the race up and remained in one large group until the finish. It was a great result for the team.”
On a personal note, Hopkins was also relieved to have been able to play his part in the team’s success having endured a difficult build-up to the series, crashing out of the third round of the Elite-23 Spanish Cup at the end of March, as well as suffering from illness.
“It was great to return to some regularity in the way I felt,” he added. “The last few weeks haven't been what I had hoped for leading into the race.
“In Portugal I finally felt like I had gotten over all of it. Overall I was very happy with the weekend.”