In the late 1980’s, an American team has started to shine in the European cycling scene: the 7-Eleven Cycling Team.
The 7-Eleven team founded by Jim Ochowicz, a former U.S. Olympic cyclist, in 1981. A few high-profile cyclists including Ron Kiefel, Sean Yates (former directeur sportif of Team Sky), Andrew Hampsten (1988 Giro d’Italia winner, also King of the Mountains, with 7-Eleven team), Davis Phinney (father of BMC Racing Team rider Taylor Phinney) rode for the American team. The team lasted 16 years (from 1990 to 1996 under the sponsorship of Motorola).
7-Eleven was the second U.S. team to ride the Giro d’Italia (1985) (the Gianni Motta team was the first in 1984) and in the Tour de France (1986), where two Canadian riders on the team held the yellow jersey on different occasions (Alex Stieda in 1986 and Steve Bauer in 1990). Its Tour de France stage winners included Phinney, Jeff Pierce, Hampsten and Dag Otto Lauritzen from Norway.
And Andrew (Andy) Hampsten remains the first and only American winner of the Giro d’Italia. Now he is building bicycles under the name of “Hampsten cycles“.
From 1989 to 1996 7-Eleven (then Motorola) rode on Eddy Merckx bikes (previously, Schwinn from 1981 to 1985, Murray from 1985 to 1988). Eddy Merckx was happy about the relationship with the team. Once, Eddy Merckx said that:
“I had a special relationship with the 7-Eleven team. They were happy to have somebody with my racing and frame-building experience. For me [it] remains a great memory. I was happy I could make them more successful in Europe, and to see the positive influence they had on the US as a whole. If I had do it over, I would make the same choice straight away.”