CENTRAL Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster has arrived in Yorkshire for the start of his first Tour de France on Saturday night.
The ace from Bendigo and Castlemaine shares his thoughts leading into the big race.
“Everybody says it is a dream to get this chance and I can’t help but think back to my junior days while struggling to get the bronze medal at state championships.
I love the sport and the Tour is the pinnacle.
It’s like Melbourne Cup week or the AFL grand final.
Taking part feels like a significant achievement, but I won’t be resting. I’d love to get up there in a stage and fight for a result.
I spent three years racing for UK teams and in a way it resurrected my career at a time it could’ve quite easily fizzled out.
I’d come from the development pathway at the AIS as an amateur, signed for a semi-pro team in Belgium and then had the worst season of my career before joining up with Rapha-Condor-Sharp in the UK. It was a sideways step in some ways and a forwards step in others, but it was the equivalent of going to another VFL team in the hope of getting picked up and finally, moving into the top league.
In all honesty I thought I was ready to do that straight away, but I had so much still to learn.
I had fun in 2011. I even had some success, but I wasn’t on a mission. I celebrated second places with my mates, skipped training days occasionally and after my fifth or sixth second place, I realised I wasn’t happy.
The life I was leading wasn’t leaving me with a sense of pride
wanted more and so then started a change that carried through to now.
I still look for better ways to get everything out of myself and I have the feeling I’m on a mission to do something great.
My primary role for the NetApp-Endura team in the Tour de France will be as a domestique for the climbers.
I’ll also be trying to score a stage result in a flatter stage, or maybe even in the medium mountains.
The team is built around Leo and Tiago, two guys that can both realistically make the top 10 and contend for the toughest stages.
For the moment I’m just trying to rest well, tick all the boxes and be ready for what will be one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced; truth be told, I just want the build up to over and to get on the road.”
You can follow Zak’s tour journey via twitter; @zakdempster
or via the team’s social media and website which will be updated many times per day at www.netapp-endura.com/
Zak Dempster’s cycling career includes a Melbourne to Warrnambool victory, Bendigo International Madison track classic win, and racing in the 2013 Tour of Spain.
Check out the good luck messages to Zak Dempster on the Bendigo Advertiser website.
You can send your good luck video message for Zak to firstname.lastname@example.org