Sting from insect adds to Zak's pain

READY TO ROLL: Zak Dempster before the start of the 16th stage. Picture: PHIL SAWYER

READY TO ROLL: Zak Dempster before the start of the 16th stage. Picture: PHIL SAWYER

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IT'S not just the dramatic climbs and fast descents that central Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster had to contend with on Wednesday's 17th stage of the Tour de France.

Being stung by an insect added to another gruelling day on two wheels for Dempster.

"Fast hard stage," Dempster tweeted at the end of the 124km battle from Saint-Gaudens to Pla dÁdet.

''Got stung by a wasp or a bee or it felt like a bird on impact actually. No elephant man though," he said of being able to line up for Thursday night's stage.

Racing for NetApp-Endura in his Tour debut, Dempster again worked hard to help team-mate Leopold Konig hold his 10th place in the general classification.

Poland's Rafal Majka held his lead in the King of the Mountains as he powered to an impressive victory on a stage that included four gruelling climbs.

Italy's Giovanni Visconti fought on to be second as Tour leader Vincenzo Nibali showed his prowess in all facets of the race to be third.

Best of the Australians in the stage was Tasmania's Richie Porte, racing for Sky, in 35th place.

Dempster was fifth-best of the Aussies in the stage as he reached the summit in 122nd place, 24.51 minutes adrift of Majka.

It was another dramatic stage in which Australia's Luke Durbridge crashed after a collision with a team helper on a climb.

Durbridge remounted his bike after pushing the helper in frustration.

The Australian cyclist later apologised for his reaction which generated plenty of comments.

In the Tour standings, Nibali leads Spain's Alejandro Valverde by 5.26 minutes.

French cyclists occupy the next three placings.

Thibaut Pino is -6.00, Jean-Christophe Peraud at -6.08, and Romain Bardet at 7.34 behind the Tour leader.

Best for NetApp-Endura is Konig in ninth place, 12.40 behind Nibali.

Thursday's stage is a 145.5km trek from Pau to Hautagam.

Riders face the daunting climb at Tourmalet. The 2115m-high summit is the most frequently used on the Tour since 1910.

The climb is 50km from the stage finish. 

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