Bernie Eisel has officially retired after 19 years as a pro rider.
The Austrian posted a message making the announcement, then reflecting on having “lived my dream” since he signed his first professional contract with Mapei in 2001.
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“Having the opportunity to ride on some of the most prestigious teams in the sport, on the biggest stages of them all, has been an incredible privilege,” Eisel said in a statement.
“I have made friends for life and travelled the world living my dream but it’s now time to take the next step of my journey.”
The 38-year-old rode the Tour de France 12 times during his career and his biggest win came in 2010 at Gent-Wevelgem, when he beat Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and George Hincapie in a sprint finish.
Eisel estimates he’s competed in more than 1300 races and had apparently wished to race a few more in 2020 to reach the milestone of spending 20 years in the professional peloton. However, he says he is now retiring “on his own terms”, a decision he says he feels lucky to be able to make after an accident in 2018 nearly ended his career prematurely.
“In 2018 I suffered a major injury that could well have brought my career to a premature end. Not everyone has the good fortune to retire on their own terms and so to have raced for a final season loving what I do, sees me leave content and proud,” Eisel said.
The former Dimension Data rider had collided with a team car during the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico and needed brain surgery.
After saying he had nearly retired three times during that period, Eisel fought back to continue racing at the end of July before riding his full final season in 2019.
Although he won’t be racing anymore, Eisel says he will continue to be involved in the sport, but is yet to provide further details of what exactly this will entail.
“I’m really happy to say that I won’t be leaving the sport and will be pursuing opportunities that will likely see me still engage with many of you, so I look forward to staying in touch,” he said.