The injury list is ominous — broken ribs, broken noses, sinus infections, stress fractures, bronchitis, and dysentery. Not exactly an auspicious start for the first American-based professional team to compete in the Tour de France.
But as the 7-Eleven team got ready for the July 4 race start, members were philosophical about their setbacks.
“Injuries come with the territory,” said Doug Shapiro, the one Tour de France veteran on the squad, who broke his nose during Paris-Roubaix in April. “That’s part of bicycle racing.”
“Professional bike racing is definitely not good for your health,” said Ron Kiefel, who was getting over a foot stress fracture compounded by pounding of cobblestone classics.
“It’s all part of the sport. When you succeed, it’s worth it,” said Bob Roll, the only member of the team to finish Paris-Roubaix.
The 10-man 7-Eleven Tour de France team will be managed by Jim Ochowicz and Mike Neel. Members will include Chris Carmichael of Berkeley, CA; Alexi Grewal of Boulder, CO; Eric Heiden of Woodside, CA; Kiefel of Boulder, CO; Davis Phinney of Copper Mountain, CO; Roll of San Francisco, CA; Shapiro of Boulder, CO; Alex Stieda of Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Raul Alcala of Mexico City. Jeff Pierce of San Diego, CA who rides for Schwinn-Icy Hot in the U.S., will also be on the team.
In an interview with Steida, Geoff Drake reports that the team was “living in a brothel in Ghent.” Stieda said, “You can rent it by the hour. There are mirrors on the ceiling. We’re the laughing stock of the peloton.”
And it isn’t just injuries and illnesses that have hobbled the team. Politics got in the way, too. The team had planned to warm up for the Tour de France by competing in the Vuelta a Espana in late April. Because of the threat of terrorism in the area, the team withdrew to race the CoreStates in Pennsylvania.
“The team lost a little focus because we turned our attention to this race,” Kiefel said. Despite it all, he said, “morale for the Tour is getting high.”
Morale is improving because the team has seen some results. Shapiro’s third place at CoreStates and Phinney’s wins at Baja and the Tour of Denver have shown them they’re on the right track.
Kiefel is realistic about his possibilities in the Tour. “I’m not a stage racer,” he said. “I’m great for one day. I’ll never win the Tour de France — I’ve accepted that. So my goals are to win a stage in the Tour and do well at the Coors and the worlds. The worlds is a big focus for me. I don’t know if I’ll be o nthe team. I’m trying not to worry about that and just to race through the season and do well.”
As for Bob Roll’s goals for the Tour de France?
Stay tuned for more 1986 road racing news from Velo-news and Richard Moore who is en route to cover the Tour de France!