Starting and building a cycling team can be a rewarding, yet challenging, experience for cyclists who wish to train and race at a higher level. A significant difference exists between cycling teams and cycling clubs. The Union Cycliste Internationale dictates that nonprofessionals ride for clubs and that professional cyclists ride for UCI teams. USA Cycling uses the international designations to determine how your riding group is recognized for competitive events.
Decide on the team's competitive objectives. Determine if you will compete in road races, time trials, criterium, off-road, downhill or a combination of these. Knowing the level of your riders, their racing goals will help you plan your training rides and racing schedule and focus on the team's strengths and weaknesses.
Register your team and individual members with the USA Cycling so you can compete as a team in sanctioned races. Based on the events in which you are competing, your team will be affiliated with one of these organizations within USA Cycling: National Off-Road Bicycle Association, United States Cycling Federation, United States Professional Racing Organization, National Collegiate Cycling Association or BMX Association.
Decide who will be the team leader. This is a critical individual who determines the race pace and strategies, and is typically the strongest rider. For road racing, every other rider serves to ensure the team leader is the one who takes victory for the team. These support riders are known as domestiques, and they typically ride in front of the leader, allowing the leader to save energy by following in their draft.
Set a training schedule for group and individual rides. Riding as a team is the best way to practice strategies that you can use in the peloton, or main group of racers. You can practice attacks, transitioning from peloton to pace line, as well as the signals and communications teammates will use during the race.
Decide how you will pay for and distribute equipment, such as team race kits -- jerseys, gloves and helmets. The members of many new teams pay for their kit and equipment themselves. Once you start racing and placing, you can start to seek sponsorships to offset the cost of your equipment, transportation and race fees.
By its nature, cycling is an individual sport, so it can be difficult to have riders put their egos aside to work as domestiques to the team leader. Make certain your teammates get along with each other off the bikes before they start riding as a team.
Racing in the tight confines of a peloton is dangerous. Make sure your team and riders have adequate medical and liability insurance.