Time trial decides Tour de France podium

Riders race through the rain in Friday's 19th stage of the Tour de France. Picture: GETTY

Riders race through the rain in Friday's 19th stage of the Tour de France. Picture: GETTY

Click here for the Bendigo Advertiser's coverage of Zak Dempster's 2014 Tour de France campaign

JUST who will stand on the Tour de France podium will be decided in Saturday's  54km individual time trial between Bergerac and Périgueux.

After 3467km of racing, just 15 seconds separates French stars Thibaut Pino, Jean-Christophe Pereaud and Spain's Alejandro Valverde who are second, third and fourth in the Tour standings.

Italian ace Vincenzo Nibali virtually has the title in his grasp at 7.10 minutes clear of Pino.

Central Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster is 152nd of 164 in what's been his Tour debut.

It's been an incredible journey for Dempster in the world's biggest road race.

"My hands have gone all Benjamin Button after stage 19. I've not been this tired before. Now I'm ageing rapidly too!" Dempster tweeted after the latest stage.

Dempster and the NetApp-Endura squad have worked extremely hard for Czech team-mate Leopold Konig to hold ninth place at 14.37 behind Nibali.

All nine riders in the NetApp-Endura team are racing in the Tour de France for the first time.

NetApp-Endura has put in a remarkable effort to be 14th of 22 teams and has Konig holding a top-10 place.

Friday's 208km stage from Maubourguet to Bergerac was another dramatic one.

Ramunas Navardauskas became the first Lithuanian to win a Tour de France stage.

The 26-year-old surged clear of the peloton on a short 1.3km climb 13km from the finish.

In driving rain, the Lithuanian held on to win by seven seconds ahead of a bunch sprint, with John Degenkolb second and Alexander Kristoff third, while Australia's Mark Renshaw was fourth.

The Tour ends on Sunday when riders complete a 137.5km stage from Évry to Paris Champs-Élysées.

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