The 7-Eleven Cycling Team….which later became the Motorola Cycling Team….was a professional cycling team founded in the U.S. in 1981 by Jim Ochowicz…who was a former U.S. Olympic cyclist. The team lasted 16 years under the sponsorship of 7-Eleven through 1990 and then Motorola from 1990 through 1996….and from 1989 to 1996 rode on Eddy Merckx bikes.
When the team received an invitation to the 1985 Giro d’Italia….which is one of the Grand Tours of Europe….a young American cyclist based in Europe named Andrew Hampsten was added to the team under a 30-day contract for the race….when after both Ron Kiefel and Hampsten stunningly won stages during the Giro….thus becoming the first American stage winners ever at a Grand Tour…. that is when team 7-Eleven was invited to the 1986 Tour de France….and became one of the major cycling teams for the next decade. Ochowicz disbanded the team after the 1996 season, when Motorola decided to discontinue sponsorship.
While it was not the first professional cycling team in the U.S….7-Eleven was responsible for an overall increase in bike racing interest in the U.S….as the team claimed a win in a Grand Tour…. when Andrew Hampsten won the general classification as well as the mountains classification at the 1988 Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy). The team also claimed a handful of world championship medals and US championships….as well as Tour de France and Giro stage wins….and one more Grand Tour podium with Hampsten’s third in the 1989 Giro d’Italia. Its Tour de France stage winners included Dave Phinney, Jeff Pierce, Andy Hampsten and Dag Otto Lauritzen from Norway. As of 2019, Team 7-Eleven is the only cycling team to have been inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.