THERE was an international raider in town on the weekend and he went home with just about everything on offer.
German Raphael Freienstein not only lifted the Tour of the South West men’s A grade overall title, he took out the sprint championship, won the final stage and took the outright lead in the Victorian Road Series.
He went into yesterday’s criterium around the Warrnambool cemetery sitting second on general classification, trailing Budget Forklifts’ Sam Witmitz by 18 seconds.
After picking up time bonus from two sprint lap wins and pipping local rider Darcy Woolley (African Wildlife Safaris) at the line to take the win, he ended the tour 15 seconds ahead of Witmitz.
Freienstein has been in Australia since November after picking up a contract with domestic team CharterMason-Giant. He said the aim of the final stage was to hit the front of general classification, but he didn’t expect it would happen.
“Sam had been really impressive all weekend. He rode a really strong road race and time trial on Saturday,” Freienstein said.
“But after I won the first sprint and he didn’t get any points, it put me eight seconds behind and it pushed me to go harder. Then I got the second sprint and it put me in yellow so we had to switch our strategy.”
Freienstein, who hails from Frankfurt, is an experienced criterium rider and said he used that knowledge to his benefit in the final lap.
“The African Wildlife Safaris boys had all lined up off the front and had it set up brilliantly,” he said.
“I sat with their sprinter and had noticed (in previous laps) that everyone had been swinging out to the left after the final turn.
“I stayed on his right-hand side and made my move as we approached the line.
“My teammates worked really hard for me all weekend. They are a great bunch of guys.”
Freienstein said he was happy with his weekend, finishing sixth in the stage one road race and eighth in the time trial.
He said he hoped to return to the south-west with CharterMason-Giant for the Tour of the Great South Coast in August and the Melbourne to Warrnambool in October, both National Road Series events.
Freienstein flagged returning to defend his Tour of the South West title next year.