"Learning is definitely the key" for Bernie Eisel and his new Bora-Hansgrohe team, the Austrian says.
He is heading into sports directing after two years away from the pro peloton, during which time he worked as a reporter and pundit for Eurosport/GCN.
This year, Eisel will be joining Bora’s staff, as the team also bring in a whole tranche of new (and returning) riders. Sam Bennett, Danny van Poppel, Aleksandr Vlasov, Sergio Higuita and Jai Hindley are among the new signings.
They will not be alone in figuring out how the team works. Eisel said: “For us, learning is definitely the key now. Getting an understanding, of course bringing some old-school stuff, but at the same time to adapt to what riders bring to the table. We are really open, and that's what the guys really enjoy now - to have the freedom to be open, and doing their own stuff too.”
While the team has switched to more of a general classification focus, there is still a large sprint group, with Bennett, Matt Walls and Jordi Meeus all featuring.
Walls said earlier this week, that like Eisel, he is still learning. "I'm still trying to figure out where I fit in as a rider," Walls explained. "I don't think I'm going to be a full-on sprinter type, because of the way I'm built, but hopefully on some of the harder days, a little bit hilly but with a sprint as well, I should have a bit of a chance.
"I think we will work well together. If the team needs me to work then I'll work. If I get my own chance, then I get my own chances."
Cycling has changed from when Eisel was in his heyday at HTC, and the Austrian realises this. He said: “Modern cycling is way more aggressive, less control, so you never really know. We want to be on top of it from the beginning.
“This is where Matt [Walls] fits in really really well, as he's young, not coming out of a certain box of experience where it's just riding from kilometre 0. You never know in modern cycling, sometimes it gets decided after 60km.”
For the sprinters group at the team, there will be a period of working out what works, despite fellow DS Rolf Adag’s claim that the team has the “strongest lead out in the world”.
Eisel explained: “It's a learning curve for all of us, where they fit in, which races they will do together. What we shouldn't forget is that the pandemic isn't over yet, which is something we're definitely going to face in the next weeks, the next months. Having a plan, and then crossing our fingers and hoping everything goes well.
“We hope it all goes well and the bubble goes well in cycling, but there will definitely be some adaptations to do. You can come in with a big plan, and then something happens and you have to start from scratch.”
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