What was once a dream became reality through sheer hard work and persistence
AS he raced along the Champs Elysées in the Tour de France finale, central Victorian cycling star Zak Dempster lived out his dream.
No matter where he finished in the general classification, Dempster joined what is cycling's most exclusive club in the 101st edition of the great race.
The journey to his Tour de France debut involved thousands of hours and kilometres.
Who would have thought when he started cycling around Castlemaine and then later in Bendigo that Dempster would be among the field of 198 to start this year's Tour in Leeds.
His feat to earn selection in NetApp-Endura's team was no fluke.
What was once a dream became reality through sheer hard work and persistence.
Dempster summed it up pefectly with this tweet on the final day of the Tour de France:
"Kids who start cycling deserve the dream that one day they'll get the chance to race down the Les Champs Elysées. Boys and girls alike."
From July 5 to July 27, cycling fans around the globe were fixated on one of the most dramatic contests in Tour de France history.
A 3664km battle took in nine flat, five hill, six mountain stages, and one time trial.
Along the way there were two rest days.
Throughout the final week there was little doubt Italian ace Vincenzo Nibali would not relinquish the leader's yellow jersey.
On the flat or the daunting climbs, Nibali answered all challenges.
Nibali led for 18 of 21 days, an incredible feat.
All around him there were plenty of thrills and spills.
Injuries forced two of the pre-race favourites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador to retire.
Fans also watched the emergence of French young guns Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.
Another French star, Jean-Christophe Peraud showed that despite being 37 he could figure prominently in the classic.
The Aussie contingent did not achieve as many highs this year, but not through lack of want.
Canberra's Michael Rogers won his first stage in his 10th Tour appearance.
Dempster and his NetApp-Endura team-mates achieved many highs.
Czech team-mate Leopold Konig finished seventh overall.
Playing the role of domestique, akin to a worker bee, Dempster did all he can to help Konig and higher-placed team-mates hold or improve their position on the leaderboard.
Being able to compete day-after-day and at such high pace is incredible.
A Melbourne to Warrnambool race victory, Bendigo International Madison, and multiple medallist at the Commonwealth Youth Games on home turf are just some of the oustanding achievements in Dempster's career.
The tag Tour de France competitor is above the rest.