In the early break all day along with Harper, Freiberg said he didn't think he could make it back to the leaders until he got a 'sniff' on the home straight.
"To be honest not at all," he said after the race. "When I was coming through the (Fed)Uni I thought 'Nah, I just gotta secure third.
The precursor to Freiberg's victory was the domination by Mitchelton-Scott of the majority of the race, with the WorldTour team using its high-quality numbers to cover every phase, group and move except for the finale.
The team had six riders in the first big break of 34, including Meyer and Luke Durbridge, who would eventually finish fourth.
The rolling 185km of riding on the Buninyong course was again a factor despite recent changes to its construction with its terrain distilling the race down to its strongest components on the day.
Later on, it was just Freiberg, Harper, Meyer and Durbridge holding a clear lead of the field in the final laps to decide the race.
Durbridge was the first to pop after doing a mountain of work as the eventual podium finishers drove on. Meyer and Harper then gapped Freiberg, who stayed the course even as the race looked lost to him.
The duo worked together until the final kilometre only slowing to play a deadly game of cat and mouse, enough to give a determined the time he needed to bridge across and blow right past to the finish.
"I got a little sniff in that home straight in the headwind and I was like 'what'? Then I'm running behind them no way this isn't happening," Freiberg said.
"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."
While Freiberg’s was basking in the glow of victory there was an undertone of disappointment for Harper who missed the top step for a second straight year while Meyer was locked in a glass case of emotion.
"I’m trying not to cry too much. I think I’ve been every position but first," Meyer said. "I had every opportunity and I’m not sure if I’m more upset at myself or letting down my teammates a little bit.
“I bluffed a little bit in the final there. I knew the legs had one kick left in them. Freiberg went early, I was hoping he wouldn’t. When he was coming I was trying to play the bluff on Harper and I had to get as close to the line as I could with one kick, but it was too much for my legs today.
“It’s hard to accept for me. I’ve been on the podium before and I’ve been wanting the green and gold for a long time. Hopefully, it'll be my 12th time lucky next year."
Freiberg also collected the sprint classification jersey, with Harper claiming both the mountains classification and most aggressive rider award.