Endurance: Bernhard Eisel

Eisel, Cav: A professional parting of ways

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
10:02
AM ET
Mark Cavendish and Bernhard EiselGraham Watson/www.grahamwatson.com Teammates, roommates and friends, Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel had been together since '07.
Bernhard Eisel says Mark Cavendish remains his best friend. But next year, he and the Manxster will square off in opposing jerseys.

Cavendish's high-profile move to Omega Pharma-Quick Step last month put Eisel on the spot. While Cavendish grated at Sky last season, Eisel found himself feeling right at home -- so much so that the popular Austrian signed a deal to stay with Sky through 2015.

Staying with the British ProTeam meant saying goodbye to Cavendish. For Eisel, the choice wasn't easy, but it was the right one for him.

"I have had so many good times with Cav over the years, but it came down to where I wanted to be," Eisel told VeloNews. "He said he didn't want to stay (at Sky) anymore. I tried to convince him, but there wasn't a solution. It was hard leaving my best friend, but it is my life."

Eisel and Cavendish have been joined at the hip since 2007, with the Austrian acting as a pilot and mentor both in and out of the high-speed bunch sprints at High Road. Cavendish quickly developed into the world's best sprinter and Eisel was the consistent shepherd at his side.

Eisel was the only former High Road teammate to follow him to Sky at the end of last season, but while Cavendish chafed at Sky, Eisel found he thrived in the team's professionalism, organization and new ways of thinking.

For Cavendish, it was a question of having the support he wants and needs for the bunch sprints. With Sky clearly backing Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome going forward, the Manxman's honeymoon at the British team was short-lived.

His move to Omega Pharma reunites Cav with former High Road teammates Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch and the Velits twins. But Eisel will not be there.

"That was the hardest part, telling Cav. I had to say, 'Sorry, buddy, I am not going with you,'" Eisel said. "I tried to convince him to stay at Sky, and he tried to convince me so many times to go with him. In the end, it's kind of a sad story, but we will always still be best friends."

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