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Adam Morka reveals more details on his new team project

How does the new World Cup team tie into Emily Batty's long-term plans?

Horseshoe Canada Cup XCO 2018 Photo by: Matt Stetson

Back in August of 2020, the Canadian cross country world received big news. Adam Morka was starting a new race team. Since then, details have been few and far between as he and Emily Batty have been focused on her fall racing program. Then, in December, Batty announced she was leaving Trek Factory Racing after 12 years.

We reached out to Morka, and were able to find a few more details about the team, why (and how) he started a team in the midst of 2020’s general upheaval, and what he thinks is missing from the Canadian development scene. Plus, some exciting news about Batty’s future, no matter where she races.

Rob Warner Meets Emily Batty
Image: Jan Kasl / Red Bull Content Pool

The Emily Batty question

First things first, and the question on many people’s minds. With Emily Batty ending her long relationships with Trek will she be joining the new team? Morka won’t say anything about 2021, but does admit that’s part of the team’s long term plans.

“Although I haven’t officially signed Emily, I can assure the cycling World that she will target two more Olympics, so I hope she is involved with the team despite her not being officially signed yet,” says Morka. “Either way, I know she’s extremely excited for next year and working hard to get back to the podium.”

Even if Batty isn’t part of the team this year, the race team project could be part of her future.

“I’ve always wanted to build a race team for Emily to ensure she has more stake and say in partnership alignment, her performance environment, and a solid succession plan for the day she decides she wants to retire from racing,” Morka shared. “This way, if she decides to move into a managerial or mentorship role, or even a commentator role on the circuit, there is something there for her to stay involved with the sport beyond everything she is already doing.”

Emily Batty Durham Shredders
Emily Batty speaks with the Durham Shredders

Development in Canada

The team isn’t all about Emily’s long term plans, though. Morka has worked with Mark and Janna Bradley’s Durham Shredders for several years. Now he’s looking to build from his experience there to pave the next step for aspiring racers.

“Durham Shredders has been an incredibly successful development program and pathway for athletes to leapfrog from the amateur ranks to a professional career in sport,” says Morka. “Mark and Janna have done all the heavy lifting there, and I’ve helped where I can.”

Working with the team has helped Morka see how important athlete support can be, at the right time.

“I believe support and the right environment is the most significant performance gap for most athletes. Of course, those things come at a cost, but having the right people in the right roles to hopefully fast-track an athlete’s potential or even help them realize their potential is critical in their success.”

“For our team,” Morka adds, “it’s all about identifying the right athletes that best fit the program and filling those performance gaps to help them reach the highest level they are capable of.”

Tyler Orschel has ridden with Durham Shredders to national podiums and international appearances.

Taking North American talent international, and a return to racing

For fans eager for details, Morka is holding his cards close to his chest for now. General outlines for the team, though, is that it will target a full World Cup calendar and be an outlet for more local talent than the European alternatives. “The team will be North American focused,” he says adding they are “considering international athletes that can compete at the highest level.”

While the new squad is aiming high, Morka says they’re also being careful not to overreach early on. “I’m taking a crawl, walk, run approach, we will look to expand the roster in the coming years,” he says. Planning ahead, the team’s put in serious work raising support in a generally difficult year. “We have a modest budget for year one and start-up costs fall within that budget as well. I want to ensure we scale accordingly and the numbers will help us make those informed decisions when signing new athletes.”

There are no official names on the roster, yet, but Morka was willing to reveal one tidbit. 2021 will see him return to racing, though in a different format. “I can say that I personally will target the e-MTB World Championships, which will be a neat experience,” Morka shared. He added he’ll be the only electrically assisted rider. “All the other athletes will be entirely XCO, and XCC focused.”

Horseshoe Canada Cup XCO 2018
Adam Morka racing in semi-casual kit at the 2018 Horseshoe Canada Cup XCO. Image: Matt Stetson

Rising to the challenge of uncertain times

While the team is on solid footing, getting there in 2020 wasn’t easy. From Morka’s perspective, the extra challenge added motivation.

“With the supply chain upside down, schedules up in the air, and travel restrictions, it’s been a fun and exciting time to start a new program,” says Morka.

Like many new ventures, finding quality partners can be key. And good partners, the as-yet-unnamed appears to have in spades.

“Luckily, we’ve had a lot of success,” Morka says of getting off the ground in 2020. “I’ve contracted INSPIRE Athlete Management to handle the sales function or the sponsorship capture for the entire program. They’ve done an incredible job. It’s still proved challenging with many unknowns related to events and what could be considered the largest bike and product shortage in history. We have some fantastic global partners signed for 2021, and beyond. I’m excited to hit the ground running and represent them as best we can.”

“Our primary partner wants to make significant in-roads into the North American market. And I can say, after touring their facilities in the fall, they will be a force to be reckoned with within the coming years. They operate a lean company with minimal waste, have an exceptional company culture. And they have the most efficient bike manufacturing facilities I’ve ever seen. So races aside, we will be aiming to make a big impact in Canada and America.”

Morka’s hints don’t stop with the roster and sponsors, either. After a 2020 that saw a big shakeup from bold new team kits on the road, the new team has plans of their own and are ready to make a splash. “I’ve been working on the design and all of the branding with our partners and we are going to make quite the splash on the circuit,” Morka says. “Hopefully we can take a step outside what has been traditionally done. I’m excited!”