DOING all he can for third-placed Tiago Machado is the goal for central Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster in the Tour de France.
Dempster and all nine team-mates from NetApp-Endura are racing the world's greatest cycling race for the first time.
After the 170km stage to Mulhouse, Machado was third in the general classification at 2.40 minutes behind French star Tony Gallopin.
Dempster finished the stage 21.38 minutes adrift of Germany's Tony Martin.
"Woah, what a stage.. Survived not too bad, but tomorrow is going to be one of the harder stages of the race," Dempster tweeted..
Monday's stage will be a 161.5km battle featuring some big mountain climbs.
The ninth stage was highlighted by Martin's solo breakaway. He powered on to finish 2.45 minutes clear of Swiss ace Fabian Cancellara and Greg Van Avermaet.
Galloppin wears the yellow jersey as tour leader, with Italy's Vincenzo Nibali at second place, 1.34 minutes adrift.
Best of the Australians is Tasmania's Richie Porte, fifth overall at 3.32 behind Gallopin.
Dempster's feat to be in the Tour de France earned the June award in the Bendigo Advertiser-Prime 7 Sports Star of the Year award.
Now in its 50th year, Sports Star is proudly sponsored by Bendigo Bank.