Dempster looks to step up after best season yet

Zak Dempster has six wins to his name in 2011 for Rapha Condor Sharp, an impressive winning streak which played a big role in his recruitment to HTC-Highroad as a stagiere for last month's Tour of Utah, however with the ProTeam's collapse the Australian is hoping his future is sealed sooner rather than later.

The air of urgency has been with Dempster for most of the season – something he credits for his success.

"It's been a couple of years coming," he says of his best season to date which netted victories at the Severn Bridge Road Race, the Dengie Marshes Tour, Tesco CiCLE Classic, overall at the Tour of Doonhame, the first round of the Halfords Tour, and the first stage of the UCI 2.2 ranked Ronde de l’Oise along with a host of top 10 results. "This isn't out of the blue I've had good results before but I'm just really desperate to win races – that's why I do cycling at this level. I don't want to be a professional just so I can get a cool Nike tracksuit and go for a ride on a team bus. I want to be a professional so I can try and win races or contribute significantly to a team that does win races."

Just as he was chosen to ride as a stagiere for HTC-Highroad at the Tour of Utah, it was announced that the team had failed to secure financial backing beyond this season. Bob Stapleton's team may not have had a future, but Dempster was still chasing his so it was business as usual "because you never know what might happen," the 24-year-old Bendigo-native told Cyclingnews.

"So the mental approach didn't change for me at all, I was ready to perform and to do what I was asked. I was really happy to be there, everyone was cool and nice and everything was organised. Hopefully that prepares me for next year."

Utah may not have been a race that suited Dempster, and he felt that he was able to hold his own in the line up that included Tejay Van Garderen, Caleb Fairly, Patrick Gretsch, Hayden Roulston and fellow Australian stagiere Lachlan Norris.

"I was really happy with how I rode and how I felt I could contribute so I didn't feel that I was scared to do what I was asked to do or that I didn't feel like I didn’t do anything that I was asked to do," Dempster explained. "The feedback I got from the riders was all pretty positive and hopefully it shows that I am ready to contribute to a team at that level."

Who that team will be in 2012 is still up in the air with Dempster revealing that there are "three or four definite" ProTour teams in the mix – although at the time of our interview he was yet to see any paperwork. Ideally, he'd like his situation sorted by the time he lines up for the Tour of Britain which starts September 11. There Rapha Condor Sharp will be aiming to become the first domestic British trade team to win a stage of the Tour of Britain.

Until then while admitting that it can be hard to focus on the task at hand, racing, at this time of year, Dempster's mantra is simple:
"Just race as though you'll be getting a job in Sainsbury's anyway and all you want is to win as many races as possible before that happens."

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As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.


Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.