“I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.” – M. Freiberg
West Australian cyclist, Michael Freiberg (Midland Cycling Club) achieved a feat many doubted would be possible by overwhelming the heavily favoured ‘World Tour’ riders and gaining an outstanding win on Sunday the 6th of January 2019 in Ballarat, Victoria.
After a week of Australian cycling controversy, WestCycle caught up with Michael to talk through the race that would turn out to be of one the most discussed wins in Australian Road Cycling Championship history.
More controversy would follow as Freiberg would not be selected in the UniSA team to showcase the National Jersey at the coming Tour down Under in Adelaide.
Glenn Te Raki, from WestCycle, was able to catch up with Michael and talk through the race in what should be remembered as the ‘ride of a lifetime’.
>> GTR: Firstly congratulations, you looked like you went into the 2019 National Champs with very good preparation, can you take us through your past few months?
MF: The past two months have been big. I was training on average 28hrs per week with all my focus on this one race. Cycling in WA is perfect at this time of year and it was the best preparation I could ask for.
>> GTR: Was the early attack with Luke Durbridge an early plan?
MF: No, it was totally unknown how the race would unfold. I missed the 30-rider split on lap one, then bridged across with WA riders, Ben O’Connor and Luke plus Chris Harper, Mark O’Brien and Nathan on lap two. I then followed the attack by Chris Harper and Alex on lap four with Luke quickly following.
>> GTR: You went for an early attack in the 2018 event, but this year you look more determined. Was this again down to better preparation?
MF: I didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of 2018 by wasting energy too early. However, it seemed that the major teams in the race could not wait for a sprint and had to make the race as hard as possible. I had to race their race this year and it payed off!
>> GTR: Can you share your experience on the last few laps, when Cameron Meyer bridged the gap. Was there more concern with three Mitchelton-Scott riders in the break?
MF: As soon as Cameron bridged across, I had a mechanical and had to chase hard to get back on. Then there was a flurry of attacks and I was able to hold on while the riders that came across with Cam were dropped. It was then 3 vs 1 in the break and I was able to sit and wait while they chased down Chis Harper.
>> GTR: What was the fatigue like on those last few laps? We noticed you looked like you were starting to cramp a little.
MF: Yes, the last time up the climb I had a severe cramp in my right leg. You can see me searching through my pockets for some gels or food on the last time up the climb.
>> GTR: When you were gapped on the last climb did you imagine you may still have a winning hope?
MF: I had virtually given up hope. I was moving so slowly up the climb that I thought I would be caught from behind.
>> GTR: And please share you last 2 km’s with us. Seeing the two riders playing cat and mouse, when did you think you could recapture them?
MF: When I turned onto the home straight, I could see the convoy of cars ahead of me. It was a headwind so if I had any chance to catch them it was right here. I had watched the racing here over the last few years and knew that the race isn’t over until the very last metre of the course. Many people have fallen off the podium by freewheeling in the last 50m. I was going to fight all the way to the line and use every chance I had.
>> GTR: That final throw of hands in the air to celebrate the win, that must just be one of your best cycling highlights?
MF: It was incredible to see 200m to go and have no one but the cheers of the crowd in front of you. I think I am going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.
>> GTR: We wish all the best for the coming weeks and months ahead.
MF: I also want to thank WestCycle – CycleSport WA and the Element Road Series for supporting me and my racing, it helped me get through the dark winter months of racing towards my goal of winning this title.
Glenn Te Raki.
Photo credit – ZW Photoography.