Kaden Hopkins 14th in Commonwealth Games road race
Bermuda’s cyclists capped a memorable debut Commonwealth Games campaign on a high after impressive performances in the men’s road race.
Having made their mark in the time-trial on Thursday, the contingent of Kaden Hopkins, Conor White and Nicholas Narraway further validated their presence at this level against a stellar field of nations comprising Olympic and world champions, as well Tour de France and World Tour competitors.
For Hopkins, who was eleventh in the time-trial, it proved a particularly momentous afternoon, battling his way to a stunning fourteenth place out of 129 riders in a display of resilience and determination in a gruelling race across the 160-kilometre course in St Nicholas’ Park, Warwick.
Finding himself in the leading pack from an early breakaway of 15 riders, the 22-year-old held his own for more than 80km before a lung-busting push by England’s Fred Wright with 20km remaining ultimately put paid to his valiant efforts.
Having been dropped by the leaders, Hopkins crossed the line in 3hr 32min 23sec, slightly more than 3½ minutes adrift of New Zealand’s Aaron Gate, who pipped South Africa’s Daryl Impey and Scotland’s Finn Crockett to the gold medal in a sprint finish.
Having found themselves battling within the peloton for the duration of the race, White crossed the line in 3:37:08 for 31st place, with Narraway close behind in 64th in 3:38:11.
“I’m really happy with my efforts,” said Hopkins, who has been handed the honour of being Bermuda’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony tomorrow.
“After the time-trial the other day, I knew I was in good shape and coming out here I was trying to have good ride.
“I just tried to stay in the front for as much as I could because I knew if splits starting happening and I was stuck back, I would miss it.
“I managed to stay far enough forward that when it split, I was in there. I was trying to be conservative when I could but I could only be so conservative until the attacks started and then I did everything I could to follow.
“I managed that for a decent amount of time. It was really hard, but I’m really happy with my performance.”
Reflecting on a memorable Games on a personal level, Hopkins was delighted to have reaped the reward for his preparations.
“I put in a huge amount of training because I wanted to be in the best shape possible for the Games and I think I’ve executed to the best of my ability,” he added.
“I’m pleased I get such good results and overall I’m just really happy.”
While White was not able to quite make the impact he may have hoped for, he was more than content with his own performance.
“We knew the first laps were going to be fast because they wanted to get rid of the smaller nations,” he said. “I tried my luck a few times but didn’t get anywhere and then Kaden went with the next break, which stuck which was great.
“I managed to finish mid-pack, which I’m happy with. On the last lap, I was hanging on Mark Cavendish’s [joint all-time leader with 34 Tour de France stage wins] wheel which was really cool. To be riding among legendary cyclists like that was amazing.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Narraway, for whom the Games as a whole have proved a truly memorable experience.
“It’s kind of surreal being around and racing some of these guys,” the 20-year-old said. “The Games have been really special and to spend two weeks with the squad has been really cool.”