“There were times when I really thought we were on the plane home,” is how Bernhard Eisel described his and world champion Mark Cavendish tough day through the Apennines on stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, which saw the Sky riders, together with Taylor Phinney (BMC) and five others finish just a minute inside the time limit.
“At a certain point we were on the plane back home. I mean, I will never give up, if I’m out of time, I’m out of time. But it was tough. I told Cav twice just to keep thinking about [his daughter] Delilah.”
“Yesterday he was on his hands and knees, and then he crashed as well, he was tired.”
“And I was like ‘that’s it, we’re not going to make it’. There were these long, long roads into a headwind and I was just giving it everything and I was like ‘just keep going.’”
“Then Jez [Jeremy Hunt] came back [from the bunch] and I was thinking ‘if he’s come back, that’s three of us going to go home.’”
“But Cav was recovering really well, he was on the wheel for 20k and then he started dropping me because I was empty. And I just killed myself trying to get through on the last part.”
Eisel was critical of what he felt was an unnecessarily tough stage. “It was one of those Giro stages you just hate,” Eisel said. “All those small ramps [climbs], they were real bastards.”
“As soon as you lost contact with the bunch, it became a day that was never-ending.”
However, with 20 kilometres to go and even with the extra support, the riders were still dangerously approaching the half hour limit. “We were drilling it,” Eisel said. “For the last 20k I couldn’t see any more. I don’t know what I had, a heat-stroke. Then I had an asthma attack afterwards and I was lying [horizontal] on the bus for 30 minutes.”
“Even the team doctor asked me if I wanted to go home. It was just one of those miserable days.”
Shut up and suffer bernie.