By Sophie Smith
Sky boss Dave Brailsford is keen to keep Bernhard Eisel on the team's books even if the Austrian's long-time teammate and confidant Mark Cavendish does leave at the end of this season.
Brailsford confirmed the two parties are currently in negotiations to extend Eisel's existing two-year contract signed in 2011.
"I think he's a very, very valuable rider for us so wherever possible we'll look to renegotiate and extend his contract," Brailsford told Cycling Weekly.
"He's a strong rider. He's got an opportunity in the classics, and as a team leader, as a road captain, he's second to none. He's the type of rider every ambitious team needs. I think next year looking towards the classics he'll be given a big opportunity to show everybody what he can do.
"You'll have to speak to Bernie but I think you'll find that Bernie is happy here, he likes the team, he likes his role in the team and he's a team Sky rider."
Eisel followed Cavendish to the British-based squad following the demise of HTC-Highroad last year and there was consideration given to do so again. The duo have been close and loyal teammates since 2007.
The 31-year-old Eisel was an integral part of Sky's Tour de France line-up. He, together with teammate Michael Rogers, was a valuable team leader and supported both Cavendish as well as race champion Bradley Wiggins.
Brailsford has openly stated general classification success will remain Sky's primary goal going forward, which has led prolific Tour stage winner Cavendish to consider a departure just a season into a lucrative three-year deal.
The world champion and his agent have met with Brailsford at the Tour of Britain, where he and Eisel are competing, to discuss his future with the outfit. It is understood no agreement has yet been reached.
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step has expressed an interest in obtaining Cavendish's signature.
Cavendish to meet with Brailsford and discuss contract
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