Drama aplenty on some of Tour's biggest climbs

POWERING ON: Tour de France leader Vincenco Nibali from Italy wins Thursday's 18th stage, the last in the mountains. Picture: GETTY

POWERING ON: Tour de France leader Vincenco Nibali from Italy wins Thursday's 18th stage, the last in the mountains. Picture: GETTY

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CENTRAL Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster is nearing the end of what's been a dramatic debut in the Tour de France.

Dempster and his NetApp-Endura team-mates again put in a superb effort to help Leopold Konig hold ninth place in the Tour standings after Thursday's 145.5km battle on some of the biggest climbs in France.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali made a solo breakaway on the last climb and powered to an emphatic victory in a stage that included the famed Tourmalet pass - the highest Pyrenean peak on the Tour.

A fourth stage victory put Nibali put more than seven minutes clear of second-placed Frenchman Thibaut Pinot heading into Friday's 208.5km race from Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac.

Dempster was 149th in a field of 164 going into Friday's stage.

A 54km time trial is on Saturday before Sunday's 137.5km ride from Évry to Paris Champs-Élysées.

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