“Form management” were not the words Bendigo cyclist Zak Dempster wanted to hear from his professional team on New Year’s Day.
Feeling in the shape of his life, Dempster was looking forward to the four-day Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which begins with a prologue in Williamstown today.
But with a hectic European season in mind, Team NetApp-Endura pulled Dempster from the Tour on Tuesday.
It was a frustrating decision for the Bendigo cyclist, who was hoping to challenge in tomorrow’s first road stage, which climaxes at his home track – the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
“There’s been a last-minute change in my professional team’s plans,” a disappointed Dempster said yesterday.
“I think they don’t want me to reach top shape too early and then once the height of the European season comes around if I have raced too much I think they’d be concerned that I’d have a lull, so it’s about form management.
“(It’s) pretty disappointing for me but I have to trust what they think and I’m sure they have my best interests at heart.
“To be honest I’ll struggle a bit seeing the Sun Tour come to Bendigo because that’s a stage I think I could have won.
“It will be a little frustrating, but I trust their judgement – they’ve got more experience than what I have so it’s important that I listen to them and take it all in.
“That’s what’s going to make me ultimately successful.”
Dempster signed with the German team in August, but his two-year deal only came into effect on New Year’s Day.
The 25-year-old earned the contract after a top year in races he likened to “VFL football” compared to his new “AFL” deal and he’s determined to grasp his chance at the higher level this year.
His season will begin next Sunday at the national road championships in Ballarat, before Tours of Oman and Qatar in February.
Establishing himself as a pro rider is Dempster’s main goal this year and he’s feeling confident after top results in 2012.
“I won a stage at the Tour of Czech Republic, I had five or six top-threes throughout Europe – I had two in Spain, one in Italy – and I won two races in England,” he said.
“I think I had about 15 top-10s so I was always consistent, then on top of that cycling’s a real team sport so I was a part of numerous victories where I assisted guys of different strengths to me.
“I feel like the level I was at I felt like I was one of the stronger riders there and deserved the chance to step up.
“I’d like to win a race at the higher level this year and then, of course, assist my team-mates who have different strengths to me.”