Five of the greatest, or most influential teams, these are listed in no particular order.
The TI-Raleigh team was hugely successful during the mid-1970s to 1980s. Led by Peter Post, he ruled this team and built up wins in both classics and stage races. Leading riders included Joop Zoetemelk, Jan Rass, Gerrie Knetemann and Hennie Kuiper. The team eventually split at the end of the 1983 season with Post creating the new Panasonic team.
It’s still hard to believe that Peugeot aren’t involved in top level bike racing. They started producing bikes in 1882 and sponsored riders from that point onwards! It was in 1963 though, that they adopted the famous checkerboard black on white tops we associate with them still. Tom Simpson rode for them, alongside a young Eddy Merckx in the late 1960′s, in the 1970′s Bernard Thevenet won the Tour de France twice riding for Peugeot. But it was the late 1970′s / early 1980′s where we best remember them, signing a whole host of English speaking riders including Robert Millar, Stephen Roche, Sean Yates, Phil Anderson and Allan Peiper – Peugeot accelerated the foreign invasion of cycling. 1986 was their final year, after which manager Roger Legeay formed the Z-Peugeot team.
Formed in 1984, La Vie Claire disbanded by 1989. But, in that period they probably did more to change cycling than any other team. Created by Bernard Tapie and Paul Kochli, the team included (eventual) five time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault, along with a young American hopeful Greg Lemond. Lemond and Hinault would battle for Tour supremacy in 1985 and 1986 which is documented elsewhere. But it was the equipment which La Vie Claire used which they’ll be remembered for – the introduction of the clipless pedal, the first use of carbon frames, titanium components and heart monitors, this team revolutionised the sport. They also wore one of the best jerseys ever seen in the peloton, the Mondrian inspired outfit.
Existing from 1978 to 1985, this team was managed by Cyrille Guimard during which it totally dominated the Tour de France. Bernard Hinault won four of his five Tours riding for this team, followed by Laurent Fignon winning two. Hinault also fitted in two wins of both the Vuelta and the Giro in this period. Greg Lemond also first signed professional for this team, winning the 1983 World Road Race Championships. Later the teams dominance waned, as leading riders left. Marc Madiot and Charley Mottet led the team until it was disbanded at the end of 1985, morphing into the System U team.
Maybe not the most successful of teams, what 7-Eleven did do was spearhead the arrival on the pro circuit of teams from outside of mainland Europe, formed with new ideas and approaches to bike racing. 7-Elven were formed in 1981 as a US amateur cycling team by Jim Ochowicz. By 1985 they had gone professional and headed to Europe. Riders included Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney, Carmichael and Keifel. After winning two stages at the Giro (the first Americans ever to do so), they were invited to ride the 1986 Tour de France. The team eventually became Motorola, then the US Postal team. During which time they were responsible for a large increase in bike racing in the US.