Man Utd man is in the form of his life

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport - by BOB FRANK

FOUR-TIME Euro­pean medal­list Simon Hoppe is liv­ing the dream at the moment.

The 40 year-old changed jobs two weeks ago and now works as Re­gional Sales Man­ager in the Spon­sor­ship Sales depart­ment for Manch­ester United, the club he has sup­ported since he was a boy, and he is also in the form of his life.

He won the fourth race of the PACTRAC Mini-Se­ries, be­com­ing the first man in the cur­rent se­ries to break the mag­i­cal 50-minute bar­rier, and the for­mer course record-holder also recorded his third fastest time ever on a route he has been tack­ling for around 20 years.

And he fol­lowed that by win­ning his age group at the Dambuster Triathlon, a trial for the World Cham­pi­onships in Budapest - al­though he hadn’t ticked the box in­di­cat­ing he wanted to be con­sid­ered for the Bri­tish team as his pref­er­ence is to do the sprint race in Hun­gary, a race he had al­ready qual­i­fied for.

Hoppe said: “Ev­ery­thing is go­ing re­ally well at the moment. I’m work­ing in London and com­mut­ing ev­ery day, so I haven’t been train­ing as much as usual, but I’m lov­ing it - even if it does mean go­ing out on the bike for an hour-and-a-half at 5am.

“My job will in­volve quite a lot of over­seas travel and could be the nail in the cof­fin as far as my triathlon is concerned, but so far it doesn’t seem to be af­fect­ing me.

“It’s a dream job for me. I’m a life­long Manch­ester United fan and I’ve been keen to work in the sports in­dus­try for a long time. I wasn’t look­ing to leave Trav­elex but I was flick­ing through the Sun­day Times one day and spot­ted the ad­vert and I thought it was a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity.”

Hoppe has bro­ken 50 min­utes around 15 times but his lat­est was the most pleas­ing, es­pe­cially given the con­di­tions.

He added: “When I did my best time of 48.48 last year it was a warm, stll evening and I had Matt Gunby to bat­tle with on the open­ing two stages be­fore he pulled away. And in 2004 I had Mat Stephen­son push­ing me when I did 49.10, so to do 49.12 on my own was very pleas­ing.

“And my per­for­mance in the Dambuster was also very pleas­ing. I don’t re­call ever win­ning my age group in a World Cham­pi­onship trial be­fore, al­though I’ll be do­ing the sprint event in Budapest as I’m not train­ing as much so can prob­a­bly get away with it more over a shorter dis­tance.

“I was two-and-a-half min­utes quicker than last year at the Dambuster and felt strong through­out. It’s dif­fi­cult to ex­plain why I’m go­ing so well but if I can keep it up I hope to fi­nally achieve my first top 10 at a World Cham­pi­onships.”

Jon Rat­cliff was first out of the pool in the Mini-Se­ries in 4.42 but then punc­tured on the bike while Neil Tandy (4.50) was also ahead of Hoppe af­ter the open­ing dis­ci­pline but then pulled out,

Hoppe, who took the lead just go­ing out of Oun­dle on the bike stage, was only bet­tered on two wheels by ‘Fly­ing Dutch­man’ Jaap Flik­weert but was 62 sec­onds ahead of Adam Wells, win­ner of the pre­vi­ous race, go­ing into the run.

And only for­mer run stage record­holder Sean Beard ran quicker than Hoppe, who crossed the line al­most two min­utes ahead of Wells, who set a per­sonal best of 51.04.

Wells, 16 year-old Josh Gull and Oliver Lav­er­ack all recorded per­sonal bests in all three dis­ci­plines while Stu­art Lem­mon broke the hour for the first time.

Hoppe’s per­for­mance at the Dambuster also clinched the club cham­pi­onship.

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