Zak rolls along with big names

TOUR de France rookie Zak Dempster from central Victoria rolled along with some of cycling's biggest names in Wednesday's 11th stage of the great race.

Dempster finished 167th in the 187km duel from Bescanon to Oyonnax.

He was surrounded by the likes of Australian stars Simon Clarke and Mark Renshaw, and German champion Jens Voigt.

"Bit rusty today, but safe in a nice group. Could be a good day tomorrow maybe..." Dempster tweeted after the finish.

They finished the stage 18.25 minutes behind winner Tony Gallopin from France who raced to the line in 4hours 25.45minutes. 

Zak Dempster

Zak Dempster

Best placed of the Australians was Simon Gerrans from Orica GreenEdge in fifth place.

In the Tour standings, Dempster is 161st at 2hours 7.56minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali from Italy.

Dempster is racing for NetApp-Endura. All of the team are racing in the Tour de France for the first time.

Dempster, Clarke, Renshaw and Gerrans have all raced in or to Bendigo over the years.

From Castlemaine, Dempster's cycling career kicked on with the Bendigo and District Cycling Club.

Some of his greatest triumphs were on the Tom Flood Sports Centre track in Bendigo.

He won the Bendigo International Madison in 2006 with Mitchell Docker.

A year earlier and Simon Clarke teamed with Nick Sanderson to win the Bendigo International Madison. 

Clarke won the Ballarat-Bendigo stage in this year's Jayco Herald-Sun Tour.

Renshaw hails from Bathurst and was runner-up in the McCaig Airconditioning and Daikin-backed Bendigo International Madison.

Gerrans is a dual winner of the Herald-Sun Tour and reigning national road champion. He raced into Bendigo last February.

Thursday's stage in the Tour de France is one Dempster believes he could have an impact.

Riders will race 185.5km from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne. 

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