Today, a new North American UCI World Cup mountain bike team, led by Adam Morka, was announced. Sort of.
The as-yet-unnamed team will be let by Morka, coach and trainer to four-time Canadian national champion Emily Batty. Morka is partnering with Inspire Athlete Management, a new arm of DEC Sports & Entertainment, to launch the World Cup-level team early in 2021.
The announcement, made by DEC Sports President, Peter Cosentino on Linked.in, lists Batty as the first athlete on its roster.
Does that mean Emily Batty is ending her long-standing relationship with Trek Factory Racing? Not necessarily.
Many ways to be involved
While Batty is listed as the first athlete on Inspire’s roster, that doesn’t mean she’s leaving TFR, or that she’ll be on the roster of Morka’s new team. The announcement also states that “No riders have yet been officially signed to the Team.” While it states Morka’s aim to sign World Cup and Olympic-level athletes, that doesn’t have to be Batty. Canada has no shortage of riders capable of competing at that level.
Batty could also be involved with the new team, while still riding for Trek Factory Racing. Morka and Batty already work closely together on another team, the Durham Shredders. It is possible Batty could be involved with the team in a similar fashion. It is clear from the announcement that Morka will continue to work with the Shredders going forward.
While it would be interesting for Batty to be involved with a World Cup team while still on Trek Factory Racing, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Catharine Pendrel continues to race for Clif Pro Team while supporting her and Keith Wilson’s Pendrel Racing team at international races.
Cause for doubt
On the other hand, Inspire’s announcement does give us cause to question who Batty will be racing for in the future. Morka is quoted as saying “There are so many benefits to being on a trade team, but you get to the point in your career where control and direction is much more important. We have a vision for this new team that will be strongly aligned with purpose both on and off the trails.”
Seeing as Morka is not currently on a trade team, it would seem as if this is a reference to Batty questioning the way she structures her career in the future. Batty has spoken in the past about needing more balance between World Cup racing and everyday riding. We still expect to see Batty pursuing her path back to the Olympic Games when they take place in Tokyo, but her riding outside of that could look different.
2021 will be an exciting year, for many reasons
What is clear is that Adam Morka intends to launch a North American-based World Cup XCO team. Regardless of who exactly is on the roster, that is an exciting development for cross country racing, and mountain biking more generally, in Canada. It opens the door to more support for the immensely talented pool of Canadian athletes as they try to reach, and succeed on the international stage.
For now, Emily Batty is on Trek Factory Racing’s roster as we head toward the very limited World Cup season. Whether her future is with Trek Factory Racing, with Morka’s new team or somewhere else entirely, we’re looking forward to following Batty’s successes, on and off the race course, in 2021.
We’ve reached out to Morka and Batty to find out more about the team, and the duo’s plans for 2021. They are currently on a two-week bikepacking expedition to traverse Iceland unsupported and, quite understandably, have not yet responded. You can follow their journey, with Eric Batty and photographer Chris Burkard through Instagram and Garmin Explore. Batty also shared her motivation behind the “Detour to Tokyo” bikepacking tour on her blog.
Cosentino and Inspire’s full announcement can be seen below:
An exciting new UCI World Cup Mountain Bike team is being created to perform at the highest level in the 2021 season. Led by Adam Morka, coach and trainer for world-renowned racer Emily Batty, the team is focused on getting race wins on the bike and doing good works off the bike.
For the past year 12 years, Morka has been the coach and trainer for four-time national champion Emily Batty. He’s helped forge strategic partnerships and helped curate her training and racing program, which has included 17 Elite UCI World Cup podiums and two UCI World Championship bronze medals.
In addition to working with Batty, Morka currently works closely with the Ontario-based Durham Shredders development program, which provides a vehicle for youth in mountain biking, from beginner to elite level. Durham Shredders already has 600 families involved in the program and the club president Mark Bradley and Morka plan to continue growing this program.
Morka, who is currently on a two-week bikepacking adventure across Iceland with Emily Batty, Eric Batty and renowned nature photographer Chris Burkard, will come to this new team as the race and marketing director. “There are so many benefits to being on a trade team, but you get to the point in your career where control and direction is much more important,” he explains. “We have a vision for this new team that will be strongly aligned with purpose both on and off the trails. This is a monumental task.”
Because Morka’s focus will be building a winning UCI Mountain Bike racing program from the ground up, the team has created a partnership with Toronto-based Inspire Athlete Management, a new arm of DEC Sports & Entertainment, who will manage all endemic and non-endemic partnerships for our new team.
Already, the team has secured a major bike brand and several other key sponsors, though the 2021 program is still seeking both endemic and non-endemic partnerships with aligned brand.
For the past 18 years, DEC Sports & Entertainment’s focus has been on the event property side of revenue generation and business development in partnerships with some athlete interaction. Now, with the creation of Inspire Athlete Management, the company will move into athlete and influencer management and partnerships and endorsements. This move allows DEC to speak with brands more fully about a strong influencer model as it relates to their key objectives of a campaign.
Inspire Athlete Management is excited to announce the first athlete on their roster will be two-time Olympian Emily Batty. Look for more information about Emily in a separate post in the near future!
DEC Principal, Peter Cosentino is working in tandem with Sea Otter Canada owner Simon Williams who will be a key player in helping Morka achieve results for the team.
“Building the best team with the best brands will tell a story of excellence over the next four years—including two Olympic Games,” said Williams. “We are seeking A-level brands while Adam procures A-Level riders to compete on this world-class team”
Morka’s goal is to win on the bike and off: “We want to win medals at UCI events as well as Olympic Games, but I also want our team, athletes and organization to do good things off the bike,” he explains. “We will be focusing on various purpose-lead pillars that are meaningful for our team, including female empowerment, health and fitness through the growth of Mountain Biking and of course, fun.”
No riders have yet been officially signed to the Team, however, Morka is in serious conversations with a number of riders for next season. Look for an official team announcement in early 2021.