The Official Bernie Eisel Hubba Hubba Club is now in session. Members present: Kitty Fondue, Janice Ascroft, Francesca Starbuck and Kimberly Menozzi. (A special thanks to Panache for the poptastic portraits and groovy logo!)
Everyone, round the table, when did you first notice Bernie?
Kitty: Funnily enough, it was when I did his birthday post from last year. All of a sudden I thought, “Hmmmm, now that man has some form.”
Janice: Bernie first came to my attention at last year’s Tour de France. Found myself looking for that number 104, never too far away from 103 (Cav). Who could miss him, being up front in that dominating train of Sky?
Francesca: Well, I’d noticed his good looks many years ago but I think the lusting began in earnest in 2011 when VeloNews started their ‘Breakfast with Bernie’ feature. In each video he comes across as a real personality, whether it was ‘Race Face’ Bernie or ‘Peloton Prankster’ Bernie. What’s not to love about a man who makes you laugh?!
Kitty: I’ve made a playlist on the VeloVoices YouTube channel with as many of those Breakfast with Bernie’ features I could find, by the way!
Kim: I’m trying to remember, but I really don’t recall there being an exact moment I noticed him (unlike with You-Know-Who). It was an over-an-extended-period-of-time sort of thing for me, as I noticed him always being around when the race coverage was showing Cavendish. After a while, it was just “Holy Moly – who the heck is he???”
What do you like best about Bernie’s riding?
Janice: It always appears that Bernie has a complete mindset prior to the race about his objectives for a particular stage. When he comes to the front, his whole demeanour is one resembling that of a charging bull. His gorgeous face has that steely look of determination, concentration, and “I’m gonna go hell for leather and don’t give a rat’s about the rest of you”. It’s at this time that the whole team seems to gather momentum and the train continues to chuff away.
Francesca: When the break needs to be brought under control, who is on the front drilling away? Bernie. When Cavendish needed to make it through the mountains to make the time cut, who got him to the finish? Bernie. When a decision needs to be made on the road, who makes it? Bernie. It’s all about the team for Bernie. He rides for them.
Kitty: I like the fact that he seems in complete control when he’s in the peloton. He’s a road captain for a reason and that reason is because he gets the team organised and riding towards their goal.
Kim: I was strangely fond of how he had to look after Cavendish. LOL! Also, as Kitty noted, there’s an air of control and confidence which is always appealing in a rider.
What do you think of his split with long-time bro-friend Mark Cavendish? Were you surprised that he stayed with Sky while Mark rode away to OPQS?
Kim: Pretty surprised, yeah. I’d come to think of them as a package deal, in a manner of speaking. Mostly, I was just happy Cav made the break. I’m not a particular fan of his, but I feel he got a raw deal at Sky. At least Bernie is now opened up to looking toward new goals. That pleases me.
Janice: Well, I would assume that the pair of them had many a long discussion about it since they spent at least 200 days together. Cav has said, “He is my best friend in the world, really”, even though Bernie kept Cav awake with his snoring. I think Bernie has done the right thing staying with Sky and will do well in the Classics. I am sure that Sky will be right behind him.
Kitty: I was actually very surprised but I think it might be the best thing for him. It would be great if Sky let him ride a few races for himself – especially the Classics or the mini-Classics,, but I wonder how much free rein he would get if Edvald Haagen-Dazs wanted to be lead rider.
Francesca: At first I was surprised but I think that was just because I expected them to move together. In truth, though, I knew it was the right decision for each of them. Bernie’s dedicated much of his career to looking after Mark and now we’ve got a chance to see what he can really do. Like Kitty says, it would be brilliant if Sky let him have a go in the Classics. After all, he didn’t do too badly in Qatar, did he?
Francesca, you had a little flirty photography session in last year’s Tour of Britain with the man himself! What was that like?
Francesca: AMAZING! My aim for the day was to stalk – I mean find – him and politely ask to have my photo taken with him. I waited by the Sky bus but there must have been over 100 people around it so I couldn’t get close. I headed on round to the start to get some pictures. I looked up and who appeared right in front of me but Mr Eisel himself! I got some amazing pictures and walked away like the cat that got the cream. Whenever I tell people about this story it always ends with “… and he was smiling RIGHT at me!” but I think it was me who had the bigger smile that day.
Janice, Kim, have either of you had a Bernie encounter in real life?
Kim: Tragically, no. No encounters with any riders, as yet. Maybe one day?
Describe Bernie in five words.
Francesca: Handsome, heroic, happy, hard-working & umm ….*cough* HOT!
Kim: Stubble-faced, shaven-legged perfection. (Too much?)
(Janice has fainted with the prospect …)
Kitty: Bearded bit of biking brilliance.
Last but not least – who’s in Paris in July to (hopefully) see Bernie on the Champs?
Kitty: Hell yeah! Me and about 100 of my closest VeloVoices friends!
Francesca: Hopefully! I’m out in France to see stage ten and currently planning to see if I can make Paris as well. All being well I will be there with Team VeloVoices.
Janice: I’m in Australia so Paris isn’t an option for me. 🙁
Kim: I wish! Alas, I’ll be in the US at that time, relegated to watching the race on TV. This is the curse of being an American living abroad – I have to go home from time to time and the summer is the best time to do that.