Cav on VeloNews.com video diarist Eisel: “He’s one of the few people who can tell me to shut up”
Just exactly what goes on inside the final kilometers of the leadout for Mark Cavendish? Who calls the shots at HTC’s pre-stage team meeting each morning? And what is Cav like to room with?
HTC’s super-domestique Bernie Eisel will be chatting about these topics and many more, as VeloNews.com brings you his daily video diary, Breakfast with Bernie, from the start of each stage of the 2011 Tour de France.
A gregarious Austrian, Eisel has been Cav’s right-hand man since setting him up for this first professional big win at Scheldeprijs in 2008. Eisel and Cavendish first met in 2007 on HTC — then T-Mobile — when Eisel came on as the top sprinter and Cav was a neo-pro.
Now, the pair regularly room together throughout the season and pal around.
“Me and Bernie are like a married couple,” Cavendish told VeloNews. “Really since I started he’s been a key figure in how I ride a bike, and how I am off the bike. There’s not many people who can really tell me to shut up, but he can.”
Cavendish estimates the pair spend 200 days a year together — “I see Bernie twice as much as me girlfriend.”
Eisel is an established rider in his own right. This season he placed seventh at both Paris-Roubaix and Ghent-Wevelgem, the latter of which he won in 2010. Eisel turned pro in 2000 with Mapei, then joined Française de Jeux before joining up with Bob Stapleton’s squad for 2007 as the main sprinter.
In 2008, Eisel’s role changed. And Cavendish still recalls his first win at Scheldeprijs clearly.
“I was given a free role. Bernie had done his job with 3k to go, and as he drifted back he saw me about 20 back,” Cavendish said. “McEwen had knocked me out of the line. I lost position and Bernie made another big effort to get me back to the front. Without him I probably wouldn’t have won. Without him I certainly wouldn’t have won a third time [this year]. He’s incredible like that on the bike. He just knows me. He knows what I’m thinking. “
“He’s my best friend,” Cav said. “When I was going to get married, he was going to be my best man. He’s my best friend in the world, really.”
Tune in to VeloNews.com every day during the Tour de France for the unique perspective of Bernie Eisel as he tackles the biggest race in the world with HTC.