Team Sky have announced that Bernhard Eisel will join the squad next season.
For the past five years, Eisel has ridden alongside Mark Cavendish at HTC-Highroad, supporting the Manxman throughout each of his Tour de France appearances.
As well as being a loyal domestique, Eisel is a highly-successful rider in his own right and has racked up over 20 victories during his 11 seasons as a professional, among them stages at the Tours of Switzerland, Qatar and the Algarve.
The 30-year-old Austrian is also a skilled one-day specialist and took the 2008 Paris-Bourges and 2010 Ghent-Wevelgem titles as well as bagging two top-10 finishes at Paris-Roubaix. His natural leadership abilities will also be a huge asset to the team.
Speaking about his move, Eisel said: “I’m really happy. I’ve had a great time with HTC-Highroad but at soon as I heard the team was folding I knew I would have to explore other possibilities and Team Sky were right at the top of my list.
"The biggest thing that attracted me to them was the structure they have in place and everything that happens behind the scenes. Everything is catered for the riders and I think that’s the perfect way to run a professional cycling team.
"The fact that I wanted to stay with Cav was also a major factor and we’re both happy that we will now have more years ahead of us.
“My main job will be keeping him protected leading into the sprints, but the spring Classics are also very important to me and I’ll be looking to ride well in them. If I can secure a ride in the Tour de France that will be great as well. I have ridden the last eight Tours and finished them all, and next year is my 12th season as a professional so I’d like to think I have the experience to be able to contribute to the team.”
Team Principal Dave Brailsford welcomed Eisel to the team by saying: “Bernhard is one of the most hard-working and respected riders in the peloton and is exactly the type of guy we have been looking to bring to the team. He’s a natural leader with a cool, calm head - in the same mould of Juan Antonio Flecha and Mathew Hayman - and will also be able to take charge of things on the road.
“The younger guys will be able to learn a lot from him and we expect him to adopt a senior role within the squad. He’s the consummate team player but is also capable of winning races himself and his versatility will be a massive boost to the team.”