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Kaden Hopkins full of confidence after winning bronze medal

Podium place: Bermuda’s Kaden Hopkins, right, after winning bronze in the Time Trial at the PanAmerican Cycling Championships in Panama

Kaden Hopkins is heading into Sunday’s PanAmerican Cycling Championships Road Race full of confidence on the back of his sensational bronze medal in the Time- Trial.

The 23-year-old kicked off the Championships in style in Panama on Wednesday, claiming the final spot on the podium among a stellar Elite Men’s field, finishing behind established Colombian pair Walter Alejan Vargas and Miguel Angel Lopez, the latter a multiple grand tour winner, including a Tour de France stage win in 2020.

The race also featured both Hopkins and compatriot Conor White, who finished in an impressive sixth place, sealing their qualification for the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, later this year, when they will get a chance to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“I’m just really happy to have won the bronze medal,” said Hopkins, who has enjoyed an impressive start to life riding domestically this season with French team Vendée U, a development squad for one of the top European teams, TotalEnergies.

“With this being an Olympic qualifying year, the level of competition is just incredibly high, stronger than usual and so for Conor and I to finish where we did is brilliant.

“We were in a really top field of riders and the two guys that finished ahead of me were definitely among the favourites. I think it shows how well I’m riding at the moment because honestly I couldn’t have given any more.

“This definitely gives me massive confidence heading into the Road Race and hopefully we can build on those performances.”

While the pair may be full of confidence, Hopkins is well aware of the daunting task they face, with the riders not only having the challenge of competing against larger teams, but also the sweltering conditions on the gruelling 200-kilometre course.

Despite having already achieved their primary objective of Pan Am qualification, Hopkins is adamant team Bermuda still hold big ambitions of upsetting the odds against some of the region’s powerhouses.

“We know it is going to be tough because as well the standard being higher, some of the nations have really deep teams and will have up to six riders in the Road Race,” added Hopkins.

“The other defining factor will be the heat. I’ve come over from Europe and Conor is over in the United States, so neither of us are acclimatised to this heat and that makes it so much more challenging.

“However, we will have had three days off from the Time-Trial, so that will have given us time to recover and also hopefully acclimatise that bit more.

“Normally, in a Road Race we would look to make it a little more attritional but with the other teams being bigger, we definitely won’t be looking to be responsible to work at the front.

“Although it is hard to predict how the race might pan out because there are no real defining features to the course, or technical elements, we can look to conserve our energy a little more and then if we’re feeling good late on we can look to push.

“It was a massive aim to qualify for the Pan Am Games but even though we’ve both achieved that aim, we are definitely still looking to be ambitious in the Road Race.”

Sunday features Cailtin Conyers joined by Gabby Arnold in the Elite Women’s Road Race, with the former aiming to build on an encouraging eleventh-place finish in the Time-Trial.

Liam Flannery and Nicholas Narraway will return to action on Saturday in the Men’s Under-23 Road Race. The pair come into the event on the back of strong performances in the Individual Time-Trial, with Flannery finishing tenth and Narraway sixteenth.

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Published April 21, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated April 21, 2023 at 7:49 am)

Kaden Hopkins full of confidence after winning bronze medal

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