Anyone that read my entry on stage 6 of the Tour of Qatar yesterday, would have noticed that there was little Bernie news...very strange for me :)
This was partly due to the fact that I couldn't watch the live stream, but also because the day, and the race belonged to a certain Mark Cavendish, sprinter extraordinaire and Manxman. However, once I had managed to watch some highlights, it quickly became apparent that Bernie had been exceptional AGAIN (The Man is a Machine).
At the end of stage 5, Bernie was lying 5th on GC, only 4 seconds adrift from the podium, and needing to gain seconds on Taylor Phinney and Brent Brookwalter from BMC. Sky and BMC battled it out all day for bonificatons (IS THAT EVEN A WORD!!!!?), which apparently means duking it out at the sprints.
Bernie gained 2nd place and 2 secs from the first intermediate sprint (WHOO HOO), it would have been 3 secs but for the extraordinary superhuman effort Taylor made to get past him. Sky didn't get it right at the last intermediate sprint and BMC, with Phinney in 3rd, took all three places. It was all going down to the final sprint.
The run in was scary fast and chaotic with everyone trying to get their leadout trains to the front. Bernie and Taylor fought like madmen all the way and it was realy close on the line. After the dust had settled, it was Taylor that took the honours coming in 5th to Bernie's gutsy 8th; BMC had won the battle of seconds, and quite rightly took podium honours behind Cav. The final GC standings were: 1. Cav OPQS 2. Bookwalter BMC @ 25s. 3. Taylor BMC @ 26s. 4. Adam Blythe BMC @ 30s and 5. Bernie @ 32s. He didn't podium, but all that hard work can only bode well for the coming season.
Bernie gets to rest his legs for a week, and then it's back to training with the Classics guys, before racing at Omloop het Nieuwsblad on the 23rd Feb. To keep us going, here's one last Bernie... enjoy:D