Bernard Eisel has extended his contract with Dimension Data after suffering a serious head injury earlier this season.
Eisel, a key lead-out man for British sprinter Mark Cavendish, has extended his contract for 2019 but is considering his retirement in the near future.
The Austrian recently told Cycling Weekly he had considered retiring this season after he needed brain surgery following a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Eisel’s re-signing, along with that of Mark Renshaw, adds weight to rumours that Mark Cavendish will also be staying with his current team.
The 37-year-old Eisel said: “I’m looking forward to the new season. 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.”
In April the Austrian underwent successful surgery to relieve a chronic subdural haematoma on his brain. The injury stemmed from a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico and only became fully diagnosed when he started complaining of headaches.
Eisel had previously told Cycling Weekly that he would be staying with the team next season, but Dimension Data officially confirmed the contract on Wednesday afternoon.
He added: “When I spoke to Doug about renewing my contract for one more year it was an easy discussion. I’m really, really thankful that even after being a pro for 18 years it was definitely one of my easiest talks with a team owner about a new contract, so that also shows the character of Douglas.
“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.
“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.”
Eisel is likely to ride for Cavendish in 2019, who has been is dealing with Epstein-Barr virus since the Tour de France.
His race plans for 2019 remain unknown though he has begun training on his bike again.
Cavendish has not yet announced his team for 2019, but he is expected to re-sign with Dimension Data, despite previously being linked with Bahrain-Merida.
Team principal Douglas Ryder said: “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.
“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 is with us to continue and build on our wonderful partnership.”
Founded in 2007, Dimension Data for Qhubeka became the first ever African WorldTour team in 2016.
Qhubeka is a charity that works with partners to provide people in Africa with bikes in return for work improving communities, the environment or schooling.
The team’s head of performance, Rolf Aldag, said: “Bernie is more than just a rider on this team. His tactical skills in the races give our sport directors an extra pair of eyes and ears in the peloton and lead us to make better decisions.
“He is a mentor for our young riders, sharing all his experience and due to the respect he earned over the last 18 years in the peloton, he can move in the bunch more freely to place our riders into the perfect positions in critical moments.”