In 2013, Sky had an awful Classics campaign but Bernhard Eisel is quick to point out so did all of the other squads bar RadioShack.
"I heard so many guys saying we had a bad classics campaign, but who didn't? Cancellara won both and that's what counts," Eisel told Cyclingnews. "If you don't win Flanders or Roubaix, then you had a shit classics campaign. That's what it boils down to in the end."
Eisel has won on the Cobbles before, with the 2010 Ghent-Wevelgem one of his biggest achievements as a pro. The Austrian knows the usefulness of the earlier Cobbled races too:
"If you win Waregem, Harelbeke or Gent-Wevelgem, for a rider that's a big result, because for him that could mean he has a contract for the next four to six years because teams know he has the potential to be up there," Eisel said. "The media just slaughters you if you don't win them [Flanders and Roubaix] but Fabian won both of them, so what should we do? Fire the rest and just pay him?"
The veteran is confident that Bradley Wiggins introduction to the Classics squad will not cause any interruption in the team’s preparation:
"Of course, we're a good group together but it's pretty easy to come in, we all know each other really well. I don't see any trouble there," Eisel said. "Let's see how he goes and what his goals are. He's probably going to be that flying that we have to take care of him and he's the captain, or else he says 'guys, I'm just a helper, tell me what to do.' But if he's on, then he's definitely one of the main contenders."
The big change to the team’s regime before the Classics is that last year they didn’t send any Classics riders to Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, and Eisel will do Tirreno this year.
"I'm doing Tirreno and I'm looking forward to that and Strade Bianche," Eisel said. "Although I have to say I actually enjoyed my time training at altitude on Mount Teide and I think my form wasn't too bad afterwards. But still, I'm a racer, I like racing and I prefer doing that."
Having been at the Tour of Qatar, which was dominated by Omega Pharma-Quick Step and in particular Classics hard men and veterans Niki Terpstra, who won the race overall and a stage, and Tom Boonen, who won two stages and looked ominously good, Eisel is aware of the squad’s power.
"Of course, it's always the same, when you see QuickStep going like this, you wonder what they're going to be like in two months' time. But at the same time I know I can build up and probably some of them are already on peak form," Eisel said. "What counts is in two months' time."
OPQS know they must deal with Trek (Cancellara) and Cannondale (Sagan), but I it time we added Sky to the reckoning? Only time will tell.
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