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Freiberg eyes worlds berth as he builds for 2012 Olympics

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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Alex Hinds, Production Editor

Sydney, Australia

Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.

If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.

Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.

When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.