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.