Dimension Data announced Wednesday that Bernhard Eisel has renewed his contract and will stay with the team through 2019. The 37-year-old veteran rider will use his experience to guide the younger talents that are signing on with the team.
"I am extremely happy that I can do another year with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka; and while I always perhaps dreamed of retiring with an American team and spending my final days in Malibu, now I'll probably retire in Camps Bay after 2019," Eisel said jokingly in the team press release.
This year, Eisel crashed at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and suffered a major head injury, which eventually saw him undergo brain surgery for a subdural haematoma, ruling him out for a significant part of the season. He made a slow recovery and returned to racing in July at GP Cerami and then RideLondon, Arctic Race of Norway, Deutschland Tour, Tour of Poland, the WorldTour races in Canada, and Paris-Tours. He concluded his season at the Tour of Guangxi.
"I’m looking forward to the new season," he said. "This year obviously wasn't perfect and I had my ups and a lot of downs with injury but I'm super-happy that I'm back. That's also a key reason in why I've decided to stay on; I had so much freedom from the team who supported me with everything that I needed with my injury. They gave me all the time that I required to come back, there was never a push from them. I basically didn't race for five months this year and the team never complained about that."
Eisel has been racing professionally for nearly two decades, staring in 2001 with Mapei-Quick Step. He has raced for teams FDJ, T-Mobile and HTC-Columbia, and Team Sky. He joined Dimension Data in 2016 and will be with the team for four years come the end of 2019.
He is one of the most respected domestiques and lead-out riders in the peloton, but has had much success of his own with victories at Gent-Wevelgem, AND stages of the Tour de Suisse and Three Days of De Panne. He has also competed in 19 Grand Tours during his career: four times at the Giro d'Italia, 12 Tours de France and three times at the Vuelta a España.
He also serves as a road representative on the UCI Athletes' Commission.
"Bernie has one of those voices that let's everyone know that he's around. He's one of the great characters of the sport and has an unmistakable aura about him but, most importantly, he simply is an outstanding rider who leads by example in every way," said team manager Doug Ryder.
"As our road captain he's become a major figure in our organisation in every sense making his presence felt with staff and riders, being exceptional in interacting with all of our valued partners as well as the media and is a firm fan favourite too.
"Not only that, but his commitment to the Qhubeka charity ever since joining us in 2016 has been exemplary and he's among the first to get involved whenever new campaigns are launched or bikes are being distributed.
"We are thrilled that his future lies with us to continue and build on our wonderful partnership."
Eisel said he had considered retirement after his horrific crash, but decided to end his career on a better note, and wants to race for one more season.
"I wasn't done with cycling after the crash this year so I want to have one really good season before I think about retirement for good, although I think in my head I’d already retired three times this year," he said. "The injury was heavy but I made a full recovery so I want to complete one more year of racing from January until October and let's hope that we win a lot of bike races in 2019."