Freiberg flies into green and gold glory
Michael Freiberg has ridden the race of his career to take the gold medal in the 2019 National road race in Buninyong this afternoon.
Freiberg, in his debut race for the Pro Racing Sunshine Coast team, was in the early break that attacked on the first lap of the 16 lap, 185km course.
Together with Team Bridgelane’s Chris Harper and Mitchelton-Scott’s Luke Durbridge and Alex Edmondson, both former winners of the race, the group gained a solid advantage over the main peloton which they maintained until the final 50km.
Attacks from the main bunch began with 5 laps to go, and cracks began to appear in the breakaway. The break of 4 riders was quickly joined by Mitchelton-Scott’s Cameron Meyer, and two riders from the Team Bridgelane squad.
By the final lap, the break had consolidated back to just three riders, with Freiberg, Harper, and Meyer gunning for the podium places.
Freiberg was dropped on the last climb up the notorious Mount Buninyong and it looked like Chris Harper and Cameron Meyer would decide the gold medal.
But Harper and Meyer played cat and mouse too early and the Pro Racing Sunshine Coast rider blasted past them well before the finish to take a decisive win in front of huge crowds.
Freiberg himself admitted he thought the race was out of his reach when he was dropped over the final climb by Meyer and Harper.
"To be honest I wasn’t sure at all," he said after the race. "When I was coming through the (Fed)Uni I thought 'Ok, I just gotta secure third.”
"Then I got a little sniff in that home straight in the headwind and I was like what? Then I'm running behind them thinking no way this isn't happening! They're not going to let me come past them. But I managed to hit them with speed and Cam hesitated a little bit and I got a gap."
"I thought Cam was going to line me up and dump me but I managed to stay away. It's quite surreal actually."
Freiberg, 28, won the 2011 omnium world championship and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal on the track before he retired suddenly in 2012. He began a cycling comeback in 2017, where he won the National Road Series championship.
PRSC team director Ben Kersten was ecstatic with the victory.
“Freiberg is a complete freak of an athlete and we knew that when we signed him. He went into retirement just after he won his world championship, had four years off where he became a successful entrepreneur, and then made a comeback and was able to achieve this,” he said.
“Those kinds of riders only come along once in a lifetime and you need all of that grit, determination and passion to come from behind the way he did and win the biggest race in Australia. He deserves every bit of that green and gold jersey.”
“To have the physical and mental ability to do that is what makes a champion athlete, plus today he backed himself, never gave up despite odds that seemed insurmountable. It’s a ride that will go down in the history books for sure” he added.
Freiberg will be back in action at the National championships on Tuesday 8 January in the time trial, what is his key event.