Man Utd man is in the form of his life
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.