• Michael Freiberg wins the men's road race at the 2019 Cycling Australia FedUni National Championships (Con Chronis)
Cycling Australia (CA) announced the final rider selected for the UniSA national team at the Tour Down Under, with Michael Potter (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) picked ahead of national road race champion Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast).
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

9 Jan - 7:48 AM  UPDATED 9 Jan - 7:59 AM

With only one spot left for Tour Down Under UniSA squad selection after the conclusion of the roadnats, there was a general consensus in the cycling community that Freiberg – winner in dramatic circumstances of the elite men’s road race – would get the nod to participate in the biggest race in Australia for the first time.

Roadnats: Freiberg flies to green and gold glory
Outnumbered, outmanned and dropped on the final climb, Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) made the most of the cat and mouse playing out between Cam Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) and Chris Harper (Team BridgeLane) ahead at the 1km mark where he hammered past the pair, taking the green and gold jersey at the line.
Michael Freiberg: NRS champion, inventor… diplomat
The conversation begins with a curious statement from the rider crowned champion of Cycling Australia’s National Road Series in 2017. “The NRS wasn’t on the radar at all.”

Sources close to Freiberg revealed the West Australian made it a mission to gain entry to the team. He placed numerous calls to ASADA to get himself in the Whereabouts testing pool for the required six weeks before the Tour Down Under and also communicated his desire to CA he wanted to be considered for selection.

He received notice he wouldn’t be on the team, a situation that didn’t change even with his memorable nationals win, though he is listed as a reserve.

As part of their announcement, CA clarified the situation with Freiberg’s non-selection:

"In late 2018 Cycling Australia communicated with National Road Series (NRS) teams, State Institutes and other stakeholders a clear outline of the selection criteria for Cycling Australia’s positions on the relevant teams as follows:

  • Academy Athletes and High-Performance Network athletes are provided with an opportunity on a priority basis.
  • Junior Worlds riders.
  • Under 23 athletes racing domestically (Nationals performances are then weighted).
  • Riders on an upward trajectory and Under 23.
  • Rider Mentors - ie a team captain role.

To be eligible for selection, athletes had to be on the WADA registered testing pool.

The decision not to include Michael Freiberg in the UniSA Australian Team for Tour Down Under was not taken lightly, as he is a former World Omnium Champion and current Elite National Road Champion. It’s a matter Cycling Australia has been discussing directly with him. But the decision is in accordance with a future facing strategy that CA set out some time ago and to which we are committed. At the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race he will get a chance to perform on the World Tour stage.

A Change.org petition to put Freiberg in the squad has reached 1,471 signatures at time of writing.

Michael Potter is the recipient of the final spot on the team. Also riding for the Pro Racing Sunshine Coast team, Potter is a young climber with star potential who will likely have his sights firmly set on the Willunga Hill finale.

He was a surprise third place in the nationals Under 23 race last season, and came into this year’s edition as the favourite for many keen observers, but he was unable to drop Nick White (Bridgelane) on the final lap and finished second behind his UniSA teammate. He already has a healthy international palmares as well, with a 2.2 level GC win at the Tour de Tochigi in March, although he was a lot quieter in the second half of the season.

UniSA Australian Team - Men

  • Ayden Toovey (BridgeLane)
  • Jason Lea (BridgeLane)
  • Neil Van der Ploeg (BridgeLane) - Road Captain
  • Dylan Sunderland (BridgeLane)
  • Chris Harper (BridgeLane)
  • Nick White (CA selection Bridgelane) - Under 23
  • Michael Potter (CA selection Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) - Under 23

Reserves

  • Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast)
  • Harry Sweeney (EvoPro Racing) Under 23

CA also confirmed squads for all of the national teams during the summer of cycling. Inform TM Insight MAKE as the second placed NRS team make up the bulk of the selections for the Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race and Race Zero events.

Nationals criterium winner Brenton Jones will get a chance to show his chops on a longer circuit race, and will likely be the leader for the sprint with Nathan Elliot and Freiberg solid lead-out men. The squad changes significantly for the WorldTour level Cadel’s race, with more testing pool athletes brought in at the expense of some Inform riders. The race looks set to be a good one for Freiberg’s talents and other additions Dylan Sunderland and Ayden Toovey should also relish the course. 

Roadnats: Jones finally gets the crit title he desperately wanted
A long path, paved with the pain of near misses, had been the story of Brenton Jones (Delko-Marseille Provence) at the national criterium championships. That ended when Jones edged out Tristan Ward (Team Bridgelane) to win the 2019 edition.

Toward Zero Race Melbourne - KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team – Men

  • Nathan Elliott (Inform-MAKE)
  • Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast)
  • Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille Provence)
  • Tom McFarlane (Inform-MAKE)
  • Will Moloney-Morton (Inform-MAKE)
  • Rudy Porter (Inform-MAKE)
  • David Williams  (Inform-MAKE)

Reserves

  • Tom Benton  (Inform-MAKE)
  • Carter Turnbull  (Inform-MAKE)

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race - KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team - Men

  • Nathan Elliott (Inform-MAKE)
  • Michael Freiberg (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast)
  • Dylan Sunderland (BridgeLane)
  • Harry Sweeney (CA selection, EvoPro Racing)
  • Carter Turnbull (Inform-MAKE)
  • Ayden Toovey (BridgeLane)
  • Nick White (CA selection, Bridgelane)

Reserves

  • Michael Potter (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast)*
  • Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille Provence)
  • Sam Crome (Team UKYO)

Inform TM Insight MAKE also come in with heavy representation in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, likely due to the fact they are one of the few top NRS teams without a Continental licence. A number of other NRS teams and riders may feel slightly aggrieved at the selection, with names like Cameron Ivory, Cameron Roberts, Riley Fleming (all GPM-Stulz), Jay Vine, Sam Hill (both Nero KOM Racing) and Ryan Standish (AMR Renault) all potential selections.

Elliot and Jones will be the experienced heads in what is a very young squad, with Jenner also well-seasoned after years racing against the best Under 23 riders in the world. 

Jayco Herald Sun Tour - KordaMentha Real Estate Australian Team - Men

  • Nathan Elliot (Inform-MAKE)
  • Carter Turnbull (Inform-MAKE)
  • Rudy Porter (Inform-MAKE)
  • Tom McFarlane (Inform-MAKE)
  • David Williams (Inform-MAKE)
  • Brenton Jones (CA selection/ Delko Marseille Provence)
  • Sam Jenner (CA selection/Team Wiggins Le Col)

Reserves

  • Will Moloney-Morton (Inform-MAKE)
  • Tom Benton (Inform-MAKE)

With the Tour Down Under starting so soon after the nationals, the entire squad for the women’s UniSA team was announced well in advance so there was no chance to squeeze Sarah Gigante in despite her incredible ride in the road race and time trial. CA also announced the other squads for the various women’s national teams with a lot less WorldTour riders than typical populating the teams.

Uni-SA squad for TDU announced with one more to come
Six of the seven members of the Uni-SA squad for the Tour Down Under have been announced with the squad to feature four Bennelong-SwissWellness members after the Continental-registered team finished first in the National Road Series standings.

Rachel Neylan will bring significant experience to a green squad with a lot of potential for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Toward Zero Race Melbourne. Chloe Hosking showed how to win the race as a sprinter last year and this team looks set to try and emulate the Commonwealth Games gold medallist naming a lot of riders with rapid finishes including two-time national criterium champion Rebecca Wiasak - who will likely get the call if it comes to a sprint - Georgia Whitehouse and Ruby Roseman-Gannon.  

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race/ Towards Zero Race Melbourne - Korda Mentha Real Estate Australian Team - Women

  • Rachel Neylan (Team VIRTU Cycling)
  • Sarah Gigante (Roxsolt-Attaquer)
  • Georgia Whitehouse (Sydney Uni Staminade)
  • Emily Roper (QLD)
  • Ruby Roseman-Gannon (VIS)
  • Rebecca Wiasak (Fearless Femme Racing)

Brodie Chapman won last year’s Herald Sun Tour as part of a UniSA squad stacked with WorldTour riders and while not as strong as last year's team, contains an able, mixed group with differing styles. Roper, Whitehouse and Jessica Pratt come into the team after strong rides in last year’s NRS, while Gigante will no doubt bring the passion and verve she is now famous for. 

Jayco Herald Sun Tour - Korda Mentha Real Estate Australian Team - Women

  • Emily Roper
  • Georgia Whitehouse (Sydney Uni Staminade)
  • Ruby Roseman-Gannon (VIS)
  • Jessica Pratt (Sydney Uni Staminade)
  • Sarah Gigante (Roxsolt-Attaquer)
  • Anya Louw (Tasmania Institute of Sport  Racing)