Kaden Hopkins comes through toughest test
Kaden Hopkins has come through the toughest test of his career after completing four gruelling days of competition in the prestigious Circuit of the Ardennes series.
Hopkins finished 62nd overall for his Vendée U team as he faced a stellar field of competitors from a host of world tour teams in the UCI Europe Tour event.
The 23-year-old had plenty of confidence heading into the race after picking up his first win for the French team in the three-stage Bouclé de l’Artois race the week before, and he got off to a strong start, finishing 28th in the first stage – a 89.6-kilometre course – and crossing the line within three seconds of race winner Alex Laurance, of Alpecin-Deceuninck.
The second stage, a daunting 185.6km road race from Renneville to Gruyères proved a far tougher experience, with the Bermudian clocking a time of 4hrs 34min 36sec, which was good enough for 65th position out of 156 starters.
Norway’s Mathias Bregnhoj, representing Leopard Togt Pro Cycling, clinched victory, more than four minutes ahead of Hopkins in 4:30:30.
The next stage, a 169.6km race from Chooz to Haybes, proved to be Hopkins’ worst finish of the event as he battled to 75th place in a time of 4:17:07, just under nine minutes adrift of Groupama-FDJ Conti rider Thibaud Gruel.
Hopkins concluded the series with a 57th-place finish in the final stage, which consisted of a 138.7km course from Bazeilles to Charleville-Mézières, crossing the line in 3:11.55.
American Luke Lamperti, of Trinity Racing, claimed victory, just 25 seconds ahead of Hopkins’s time, after fighting off Gruel and Italy’s Alberto Bruttomesso in a sprint finish.
At the conclusion of the four stages, Hopkins’s total time stood at 14:11:50, which was just over thirteen and half minutes adrift of champion Bregnhoj’s winning total of 13:58:18.
Hopkins will now continue his preparations in advance of representing Bermuda at the Pan American Road Cycling Championship, in Panama on April 23, which serve as a qualifying event for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, from October 20 to November 5.