By Gregor Brown in Marseille
T-Mobile's Bernard Eisel is still making his way though the Tour de France after suffering on the Alpine stages. The 26 year-old Austrian sprinter hopes to take advantage of the trip to flatter terrain on Thursday in Montpellier to go for his first ever Tour stage win. Eisel reflected on his Alpine pains before the start of stage 10.
"It was okay," remarked Eisel to Cyclingnews about Tuesday's stage to Briançon. "It was just I had problems on the first climb when we started from kilometre zero straight up to a hors catégorie climb. ... I tried to warm up on the rollers but it does not make a difference. If I go to the village [Départ] and have two coffees it is the same as... It is better; it is more motivation for me, actually."
"Really, I hate to do days like that. I was dropped last year on the Galibier and this year on the Iseran. Okay, we come back on the descent, but it is just the whole run, suffering and suffering... you have to kill yourself." Eisel stayed with a group of non-climbers and sprinters that eventually finished in a 73-man group at 28 minutes back on winner Mauricio Soler. "We tried to keep it together at the bottom, control the race a bit, but when they start to attack it is just, 'boom!'"
Eisel is looking towards stage 11 to Montpellier. "I think tomorrow will be a nice day for the sprinters," he continued. "Then, the next day, is too hilly, and we go to the time trial and then up to the mountains... We will have to suffer again!
"I will suffer but I love the Tour and it is for me, it is a passion. It is really nice that they [the team directeurs] decided to bring me here. I will even do everything [I can] to come back nest year."
The German team managed by Bob Stapleton reached new peaks when it grabbed the Maillot Jaune and stage win with Linus Gerdemann. The jersey was lost when the brave, young rider faded on the finish to Tignes, but Eisel continues to have high aspirations for the rest of the Tour.
"Tomorrow is my chance for the sprint," noted the likable Eisel. He is given a free card to play even with Gerdemann and Kim Kirchen as GC riders. "We have six riders and at the start we have free cards, and Linus can look over himself because he is smart enough and strong enough. We also have Kim Kirchen; they are working pretty well together."
The team has had the extremes of fortune in the Tour so far, with Gerdemann's stint in the yellow jersey off-setting the abandons of crash victims Mark Cavendish, GC-favourite Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz, who collided with a spectator. Eisel still thinks the team has a good chance despite having less strength in numbers. "We still have a pretty good team but with six riders it is not... It is a strong team but the not the biggest one. We had some really bad luck the other day."
The team would like to have Gerdemann end the Tour in the Maillot Blanc of best young rider but Eisel thinks it will be tough. "We will try but like we said even before the Tour, his biggest rival for the white jersey is [Discovery's Alberto] Contador. He showed it yesterday just how strong he is."
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