PROTECTING highest-placed team-mate Leopold Konig is the goal for cental Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster as the Tour de France rolls on.
Ahead of Tuesday’s race into the Pyrenees, Dempster said the NetApp-Endura team would work to help Konig held or improve eighth place in the Tour standings.
“Stage 16 is the longest of the race as we make our way even further from the Alps, but toward the Pyrenees,” Dempster said.
The climb at 30km was one Dempster said would play a key part in sorting out stage placings.
Although he is well back in the general classificiation, Dempster has a key role to play in his Tour de France debut.
“We are doing all we can to keep Leo out of trouble.
“ For me that means keeping him out of the wind, making sure he has everything he needs, bringing him in a good position to start climbs and as were the case on stage 14, chasing down any dangerous breakaways so that he has the best shot at success.
“That’s basically the life of a domestique.”
Dempster said the 15th stage on Sunday was one of the most difficult in his career as the field raced through teeming rain and strong wind.
“The team’s priority was to get Leo safely through that.
“So even though I’m perhaps better suited to those stages, my personal goal is to keep him at the front which is why I didn’t sprint that day,” Dempster said.
“But there’s two more flatter days, so perhaps I’ll get the chance there, but it will depend on the situation.
“We’ve got three really hard stages in the Pyrenees, followed by a flat stage, a hard TT (time trial) and the Paris stage, so there’s a long way to go yet.
“Although it doesn’t seem like much I’m just trying to stay focused and recover as best I can for each stage.
“It’s definitely been the most challenging experience of my life, but I think it could be the most rewarding.
“Thanks again everyone back home for all the support,” Dempster said just hours before starting the long and winding journey to Bagneres-de-Luchon.