Persistent Robin Horsfield’s character shines through in bruising Canada Cup
Robin Horsfield persisted against adversity to finish sixteenth at the Canada Cup held in Whistler, British Columbia.
The qualification-only race featured top riders from Canada and the United States. The course on Blackcomb Mountain was a four-kilometre loop that included a six-foot drop-off, difficult descents and daunting steep climbs in hot and dusty conditions.
A host of riders quit the race early because of the difficulty, with Peter Disera, a professional mountain biker and former Canada national champion taking victory.
Michael van den Ham, a Canadian cyclocross champion, who finished second, and Robbie Day, the runner-up at the 2021 US National Championships, completed the podium places.
Horsfield was crashed into after the drop on the first descent of the day, hitting the ground and bending his gearing system. This forced him two minutes back into the Junior World Series field, where he was again crashed into by race leaders.
“By the time Robin came back up the start finish area, halfway into the first lap of six, he was already three minutes back," said Mark Brown, the Bermudian’s longtime coach.
“While groups do not draft each other as they do in road biking, it is critical to maintain contact with other riders to keep yourself riding fast and strong.
“Being three minutes back off the start and having to work through the junior field is an incredibly demoralising feeling.
“Frankly, many riders would quit their event at this point. Robin has proven, time and time again, that he is not a quitter and he showed that again.”
The impact of the slow start was seen in Horsfield’s lap times, which, normally consistent, showed more than 19 minutes in the first lap, a 17-minute second lap as he worked with top junior riders, 18-minute third and fourth laps, and then back to sub-17-minute laps once he got back in contact with the men's field and passed multiple riders.
Having endured mixed fortunes in the series, including two snapped chains at an event in Quebec in May, resulting in a DNF, Horsfield conceded his early-season expectations have changed.
“That DNF means that I do not have the opportunity to rank in the top 20 at the Canada Cup series this year, which was a major seasonal goal,” said Horsfield, who will shift his focus to Ontario-based events for the rest of the season.
“I used this more as a training race and chance to ride among North America's best again before I return to Ontario, where I am seeking to rank in the top three in the province.”
Brown is adamant Horsfield’s quality and determined mentality will only see him continue to progress and make his mark in mountain biking.
“Robin has a unique level of persistence that is seen in his continual improvement at the provincial and national level in mountain biking,” he added.
“There are, quite literally, hundreds of races where Robin could podium and win, but he recognises that continued development requires racing among those who are, as of now, stronger than him.
“We took this approach in the Fat Tire Massive series in Bermuda when he was a child, never letting him win more than once before moving him up categories until he spent over a year in the men's category working his way to the front.
“This year he is certainly among the top five riders in Ontario, and he has proven that he can place in the top 20 in Canada.
“His persistence, shown acutely in this one race and over the years, is what makes him a champion.
“While we recognise Bermuda does not get to see him compete as often as we would all like, I believe he will, if he continues this journey for another three to four years, put tiny Bermuda on the map in the sport of mountain biking — not just at a Caribbean level, but at a truly international level.”