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Team 7-Eleven: How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World-And Won Paperback – 20 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: VeloPress (20 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934030929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934030929
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,076,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"The new "Team 7-Eleven" book brought back great memories." -- Eric Heiden, 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Team 7-Eleven cofounder

"["Team 7-Eleven"] catalogues every episode, from the colorful characters to the shocking successes, in a methodical chronology of the team's decade-long run." -- Podium Cafe

"What wonderful and painful memories Och and Geoff brought to life in the new "Team 7-Eleven book"! From the early 'Ranch Dog' days to the Tour de France victories, the stories and level of detail are spot on. Och provided the opportunity for us cowboys to show the world we had the mettle." -- Ron Kiefel, Team 7-Eleven rider

"I greedily read "Team 7-Eleven" and discovered some new nuances to stories I thought I knew. Drake and Och captured the spirit of the team and brought it back to life." -- Alex Stieda, Team 7-Eleven rider and the first North American to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey

"I thought I knew a lot about the riders and their famous victories, like Andy Hampsten's remarkable Giro d'Italia win in 1988 and Alex Steida, Jeff Pierce and Davis Phinney's stage wins in the Tour de France. But ["Team 7-Eleven"] is so full of fascinating details and behind-the-scenes anecdotes that I couldn't put it down." --

"For me, Geoff and Jim's book "Team 7-Eleven" passed that fact-check test. What I didn't expect was that I would get drawn into remembering the amazing bike race battles that Sergent Rock van Och lead us into. And to think that we followed him!" -- Tom Schuler, Team 7-Eleven rider

""Team 7-Eleven" is a true joy to read...It is an essential read if this period of cycling is one that passed you by or one that is before your time." --washinemachine post and others

About the Author

Geoff Drake is the former editor of VeloNews and the former editor of Bicycling magazine. As editor of VeloNews, he covered the 7 Eleven team's exploits in the team's most important years. Jim Ochowicz is a former Olympic cyclist and currently the manager of the BMC professional cycling team. Ochowicz created the 7 Eleven team and its successors, the Motorola Cycling Team and the U.S. Postal Cycling Team, with whom Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France overall victories.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For nearly two decades I have watched the Tour de France and even developed my friend to follow along on long wave radio when a television wasn't available. In those early years I dreamed of being one of the lycra clad marathon men that waited at the start and one of the lesser number that actually finished.

Team 7/11 were the first of the teams that actually lead me to believe that one didn't have to be from cycling's heartland in Europe and that an English speaker could compete and indeed thrive on Europe's top stage and a book about the team was long overdue.

While this book fills a gap in the market, it could have gone a lot further and been more of a chronicle of American cycling to date as opposed to a narrow era. An excellent picture of the cycling scene is created and mirrors my own experience of following cycling from the UK, but this takes up a huge bulk of the book and many of the individuals in the book have stories so similar that telling them all separately, while thorough, seems far too repetitive.

In conclusion, a book that a cycling fan will dip into but I feel will come away wishing for slightly more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 59 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Never Takes Off The Training Wheels! 17 Jan. 2012
By Mark - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Geoff Drake's prose shines, as you would expect from the former editor of Bicycling magazine, but overall the book under-delivers on what should be a fascinating tale.

Did the team's former PR department write this? Time after time, interesting topics are introduced but not developed.

A rider is described as "occasionally troubled" but that is never explained. We learn that the Tour of Texas race week was a "smorgasbord of physical indulgences," but no more is said. Andy Hampsten spends the winter of 87-88 at a "survivalist boot camp," but we learn nothing about what was done at the camp, who ran it, or even where it was. Bob Roll was, by all other accounts, a bad-boy walking storybook, but the only anecdote about this key rider is a trivial remark emphasizing his team-player mentality.

Every rider is talented. Everyone does his best. Everyone gets along. Please! Nothing in real life is this syrupy.

Jim Ochowicz, the team's founder and manager, certainly deserves praise for his vision and tenacity. But placing him at the center of the narrative, and coating page after page with continuous, hyperbolic praise of his personal background and managerial genius, puts a non-racing character in the middle of the story and robs the book of potential drama.

The book really breaks down where it should shine brightest--the team's foray into European cycling. A timid and incomplete narrative fills the books final chapters.

As the team goes to Europe, an Italian sponsor brings a young doctor, Massimo Testa, aboard. Much is made of Andy Hampsten's initial resistance--though suffering from an intestinal illness--to getting an "electrolyte" IV from Doctor Testa. Eventually Andy agrees after being shown the bottle's label. No more is ever mentioned about IVs or medical assistance, except that Testa remained with the team throughout its life.

While it's implausible to think that a book of this nature would finally open the door to the truth about the technology of performance enhancement, as practiced in the European peloton, more needs to be said on the subject. What did the riders observe other team's riders doing? Were electrolyte IVs common for team 7-Eleven? What other measure were taken to boost recovery? There must have been a more sophisticated strategy than "eat well and get plenty of rest."

At the team's first Tour de France, rider Alex Stieda breaks away in the early minutes of the first road stage and gets a win. He says that the peloton was going slowly and that some guys were going ahead to pee. So what did the peloton think of his stage win? There are no interviews with opposing team riders, race officials, or journalists, so we don't know whether it was an impressive breakaway or a gross breach of peloton protocol.

Finally, the book fails to define Team 7-Eleven's place in history. While the team was learning how to ride in Europe without embarrassing themselves, Greg Lemond was winning the Tour, in the most dramatic circumstances. What does Greg think about the team and its role? Eddy Merckx, we learn, was associated with the team in its later years, but we hear nothing from him about how Team 7-Eleven brought respect to American cycling.

In short, missed interview opportunities, an exaggerated focus on team management, and a failure to take off the training wheels and dig into some potentially negative material, all serve to undermine the promise of this book as a historical account and rob the story of interest.

I pre-ordered the book and read it almost straight through, but came away disappointed.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A worthy read... 28 Nov. 2011
By C. Harnish - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed this for my podcast (ESP Podcast) and enjoyed the history of the book, but I would generally agree with the 3 star reviews here. I found the book disjointed at times, often repeating itself in spots. I also feel that it does a great job filling in details from the 1970's to 1986, but just falls flat after that. It lacked a lot of the meat in those years. So why not 3 stars? I think that anyone looking for the backstory of Team 7-Eleven, especially those who were inspired to take up racing or by the team while racing, it is worth the read. If you know most of the whole story, then I would save your money.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Great Read for the Cycling Fan 2 Jan. 2012
By Marlborough - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There was American pro cycling before the Lance Armstrong era, and if you want to know about it, here's your passport.

From Eric Heiden to Andy Hampsten, Ron Kiefel, Alex Stieda, Davis Phinney, Chris Carmichael, and Bob Roll, all the members of the first American cycling team to make it in European professional cycling are here, orchestrated by Jim Ochowicz. Eddy Merckx and Greg LeMond appear, along with other members of the peloton interacting with the 7-Eleven team.

The writing flows smoothly, holds your attention, and there are plenty of quotes from the riders. This history is personal: it's about the riders, rather than the abstract forces of cycling history. Some nice photographs as well.

You can read it in a few hours, and you may well go back and leaf through for favorite passages from time to time.

When you finish this book, you'll certainly know a lot more about where all these people in cycling came from.

Six stars!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A good read but potentially could have been a great read 3 April 2012
By SWaithe - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Geoff Drake spends too much time on the build up with far too many repeated topics in the first few chapters. Once we get to the chapters where the team is up and running the book fleshes out nicely. There is great detail regarding the intracacies of running a bike team and behind the scenes info on potential transfers and the teams biggest wins in Europe. Where Drake shines is in providing the details of lauding the sponsor and then convincing them to take the big step into Europe.

However, Drake makes the glaring mistake of stating that Davis Phinney's win in the 1988 Coors Classic was the teams first win in its most sought after race on home soil. Given that the correct statistic is that Raul Alcala won the race for 7 Eleven in 1987, leading a team clean sweep, this error is unforgivable. The book is a decent read but perhaps only because there are no other books written on the subject matter.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very dramatic 27 Sept. 2011
By Bob - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Well written by someone who has racing experience and reporting on it. I especially liked the character development of the riders and the details of the lives of competitive cyclists. Very dramatic and hard to put down.
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