We all know the feeling of bonking, that moment when your legs become as heavy as steel girders and every breath feels like sandpaper sliding down your throat. But imagine how much worse it is when you think you’re within touching distance of the biggest win of your career.
Bernie Eisel felt like he was was in with a chance of winning the 2012 Paris-Roubaix when at 30km he hit the wall. Whether it was due to not fuelling properly or picking up a slight bug, Eisel’s body gave up and he slipped further and further back down the road, even being dropped on non-cobbled sections.
In the end Eisel finished 86th, 17 minutes down on the winner Tom Boonen, making him the last placed racer to finish before the time cut.
He claims it was his hardest day simply because of the psychological impact of being so close to getting a good result but ending up having to crawl home. Thankfully Eisel had a week to recover after the race and went on to help shepherd Bradley Wiggins to his Tour de France win later that year.
Bernie Eisel will race the Paris-Roubaix again this year at the age of 35. Let’s hope he can banish his 2012 performance with a strong result for team Dimension Data.