Hopkins set for collegiate championships
Kaden Hopkins is aiming to build on recent winning momentum with further success at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
Hopkins will be part of the Fort Lewis College team chasing a 25th national championship at the event in Augusta, Georgia, starting with Friday's team time-trial, followed by the road race on Saturday and Criterium race on Sunday.
The 19-year-old heads into the championships in high spirits, having clinched his first victories at the collegiate level as a freshman, where he won back-to-back races in the CSU Cycling Spring Weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado last month.
He also made a welcome return to the island to win the VT Construction Madison Criterium Adult A/B race at the weekend. However, despite his promising form, Hopkins is aware the championships will represent a much greater challenge with strong competition from across the United States.
“The national championships will be a big step up and I'm expecting a really hard race,” said Hopkins.
“However, my training and focus has been geared towards the championships, so I'm definitely ready for it. I'll take great confidence from my recent form, especially winning my first two collegiate races and the recent win race back home.
“The criterium in particular is geared towards strong riders and so that course should suit me. There aren't many hills so it will be more about sheer power and strength, which is what I prefer. That will be my main focus.
“There's a bunch of the guys I've ridden against before but there is also a group of universities who I haven't, so that will be interesting.
“There will be some tough competition but my team are riding well and if we get our tactics right we should achieve some good results.
“I haven't really set any major expectations on myself because it is a little of the unknown. I know the team will be looking at me in the Criterium and we should be able to hopefully stack the top ten.”
National glory would cap off a promising first year in the US for Hopkins, who conceded, despite the hardship of leaving home, the move away was necessary in his development, as he aims to cement himself as a standout rider at Fort Lewis in the coming years. It's been different leaving Bermuda,” he said. “No where is like home, but the move has been great for my cycling,” Hopkins added.
“Being at Fort Lewis has been fantastic. I've worked a lot on my strength and I really feel its come on a lot in the past few months.
“This year for me is all about getting stronger personally and learning from the senior members of the team.
“Those seniors will be leaving at the end of the year and so next year I'm hoping to make that step up and lead a bit more. I have three more years to make my mark, but for now I'm learning a lot and that's helped a lot.”