When Bernhard Eisel joined T-Mobile Team for the 2007 season, he figured to be the top sprinter on the team. Now, a year later, the 26 year-old has to look up to his two younger team-mates who out-sprinted him during the season. Mark Cavendish (11 wins) and Gerald Ciolek (eight wins) both easily surpassed the Austrian, who seems resigned to his new role in the team.
Eisel did however give the team its first victory of the season - a stage win in the Volta ao Algarve. His other wins came in June when he won two of the three races in the Crown Series in the US and took the overall title.
"Cavendish and Ciolek were simply stronger," he admitted to sport1.at. "I put myself behind them, did what I could and actually don't feel bad in this role. Quite good, actually, to be honest."
The young duo's rise will mean a realignment in Eisel's approach going forward. "I must immediately put myself in the service of the team," he noted. "I am more of a sprint preparer, and won't be able to ride for myself any more. I want to do this work even better and also do better at the Classics."
He may not be totally satisfied with this role, but says he has to live with it. "I could keep on trying for two or three years to become faster, but what's the point?" said Eisel. "There are simply a couple of riders, who happen to be in my team, who are better than I am. That is the reality that I have to face."
Eisel has not given up his dream of a Tour de France stage win. He has started the Tour four times, including this season, where he had three top 10 finishes, but never higher than sixth. "I will still get my chances, just in other races," he added. "That doesn't mean that I won't ride the Tour de France again or that I will never win a stage there. How a stage win comes or what happens, nobody can tell. Why not out of an escape group?"
He looks back at the 2007 season positively. "I don't recognize any mistakes, achieved what I could and am absolutely satisfied with that," said Eisel. "I completed my assignments, and nobody has complained about it."
The win in Algarve was his most important one this season, he said, as the team's first in the season. "That makes the work a big lighter, takes the pressure off the team," he explained. "It was a win at the right time."