In one of the most dramatic final laps seen at a National Championships, 2017 National Road Series champion Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) triumphed to claim the elite men’s road crown.
A prominent early breakaway group opened the always hectic 185.6-kilometre men’s road race, with Freiberg, Chris Harper (Team BridgeLane) and defending champion Alex Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott) joining 2013 champion Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott).
The quartet worked together for the majority of the 16 laps of the infamous Buninyong course before Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) made a move with Conor Murtagh (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) and Jason Lea (Team BridgeLane) to join the leading group with five laps remaining.
With the pace of the race obliterating the field and scattering groups across the course, Edmondson and Durbridge lost contact with the front group and Harper pounced to take a ten-second inside the penultimate lap.
Meyer and Freiberg reeled in Harper on the final lap, before an immediate counter-attack from Harper was answered by Meyer. Freiberg’s chance of a podium finish looking all but over when he trailed Harper and Meyer by 17-seconds just four kilometres from the finish line.
But in a determined act of raw power and tactical nous, the Perth cyclist caught the breakaway inside the final kilometre to claim a victory for the ages in the dying moments.
While the excitement of Freiberg’s victory rang through the crowd, there was an undertone of emotion for the remainder of the podium with Harper just missing the top step for a second straight year, while the dual time trial champion Meyer is left searching for the elusive crown.
Freiberg also collected the Langdon Building Sprint Competition jersey on his back, with Harper taking in both the Altus Traffic Most Aggressive Rider and Stages King of the Mountain categories.