Dempster looking for leadership role with Cycling Academy in 2017

'I feel I can win,' says 29-year-old Australian who will provide experience to young team seeking Pro Continental license

The Cycling Academy have added Zak Dempster for 2017 as the Israeli team hope to jump to the Pro Continental level next year.

Dempster, 29, comes to the team after four years on the Pro Continental level with NetApp-Endura and Bora-Argon18 and will provide leadership and experience for what will be the youngest team in the pro peloton.

"We knew we needed a rider who can be our captain on the road and help lead our young riders to win," said Ran Margaliot, who at 28 is the youngest manager in the pro cycling. "We believe we found the perfect guy for this role in Zak Dempster."

Dempster signed his first pro contract in 2006 at the Continental level with Drapac-Porsche and rode as a stagiaire with HTC-Highroad for several months at the end of the 2011 season. He signed with Endura Racing in 2012 and moved with the team to the Pro Continental level in the following years.

Dempster accumulated thousands of hours in major races, mostly as a top lieutenant and domestique, tackling three Grand Tours between 2013 and 2015. He finished 10th during stage 12 of the 2013 Vuelta, was 11th during stage 3 of the 2014 Tour de France and was 12th during stage 5 of the 2015 Tour de France before abandoning a week later.

His finish in this year's Paris-Roubaix, where he finished in the fifth group for 24th place, inspired him to look for a leadership spot for next season.

"I feel I can win," Dempster said. "It's a matter of taking advantage of this great opportunity."

His goals intertwined well with what the Cycling Academy are trying to accomplish, and the one-year deal came out of their initial meetings.

"After speaking with Ran and some advisors of the team, I think our values really matched," Dempster said. "For next year it's a pivotal year for me to step up to the plate and deliver – I've been a solid reliable rider now, but I want more than that from myself, and I think Cycling Academy is going to be the place for me to do that as part of a tight-knit team that work together, sharing all the wins and suffering out the low points together."

Dempster is also embracing his new role as a mentor and "leader" for younger riders.

"I think I am ready, ready to take the responsibility and put it on the line to help the younger riders on the team," he said. "There were times that Australians were also in the same situation. I was fortunate to follow the path of Australian riders that have made it. They helped me. They advised me. It's my turn."

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