The announcement that Michael Freiberg (V Australia) was on the long-list Australia’s under 23 team at the UCI Road World Championships is just reward for an impressive season from the 20-year-old. Already an established member of the national track program in which Freiberg became World Omnium Champion in March, the Australian has been making enough noise with his road results to make National team selector Matt White seriously think about his inclusion for Copenhagen.
Not that balancing road and track has come easily to Freiberg.
"It took a month of long, hard training before I even started to feel improvement in my legs after track worlds," he admitted to Cyclingnews. "It really wasn’t until June and July where I really started to become competitive.
"But then I did the Philadelphia International Grand Prix. We did some testing there and I blew some of the highest [power] numbers I’ve ever done, so I was pretty happy with that. Then I went to Beauce and I was second in the time trial behind Svein Tuft by two seconds – and that was massive."
Freiberg has carried that form on through July where he rode at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, to August and September where he’s just finished riding the Tour of the Murray River. The Australian finished 5th overall there, took a stage win, and all while riding a "little underdone".
With the under 23 World Championship road race in just three weeks, Freiberg is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to be part of the Australian title defence. Michael Matthews (Rabobank) took out the espoirs world title in Geelong in 2010 and the team have a number of real prospects, including Tom Palmer and Michael Hepburn, to repeat the win in Copenhagen.
A busy racing schedule will keep his condition high in September, with just 4 days of rest scheduled between August 28 and September 17, the point at which he would be due in Denmark if he is selected.
"You finish the Tour of the Murray River, and then you fly off to China for 10 days there. I’m doing my own mini-Grand Tour. I’ll have ridden something like 25 individual stages by the time I finish the Tour of China, so that’s plenty of racing."
Despite clearly doing all he can, 2011 may not be Freiberg’s year. Historically national teams have been built almost solely around the AIS squad, and that’s something Freiberg is well aware of.
"I made the long-list, and my performances have been ‘good’ over the past few months. But it’s a bit hard in a sense trying to crack in to the squad from outside the AIS team. That’s something that’s certainly against me."
"I think that’s something that’s worked really well for them. Having a really close squad of guys has given them a lot of success over the last few years," continued Freiberg. "If I keep getting results over in China in the next fortnight, who knows, they may need someone to lead-out Tom Palmer for the sprint, and I’ve been doing that all year for Cantwell."
While he'll no doubt be hoping his name is read out when the squad is announced on September 12, Freiberg remains focused on his biggest goal, the 2012 Olympic games, and that's something that's been nearly four years in the making.
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