• Zak Dempster will put his leadout talents to good use for Australia at the UCI Road World Championships. (Getty)Source: Getty
Zak Dempster has said he is proud to be selected and ready to work for Australia at the upcoming UCI Road World Championships in Qatar, which could define his currently uncertain future.
By
Sophie Smith

19 Sep 2016 - 11:46 AM 

Dempster has competed for incarnations of trade team Bora-Hansgrohe since 2012 but has not renewed with the squad that has secured reigning world champion Peter Sagan for next season.

“It’s not my first time drinking at the last chance saloon but hopefully something comes up in the next couple of weeks,” Dempster told Cycling Central from his Europe base in Girona, Spain.

“I haven’t signed any contracts yet so I’m racing without a contract at this point.”

His position if nothing else serves as added motivation for the O9-16 October Doha World Championships that Cycling Australia has selected a crack elite men’s road race team for.

SBS will broadcast the men's and women's elite individual time trials and road races live. Details to be announced.

The nine-man outfit, which Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan headline, at least on paper is so good that Dempster laughs, with Mark Renshaw, Heinrich Haussler, Adam Hansen, Mitch Docker, Luke Durbridge and Paris-Roubaix champion Mathew Hayman rounding it out.

“It’s the same when you look through all the big nations, it’s almost the best of the best that can be there all working for each other. Australia has got really big firepower there and it should be an awesome race,” he said.

The 257.5km elite men’s road race is tailored for sprinters and doubles as Dempster’s first senior appearance at a road world titles following selection in Australia’s under-23 squad at the Stuttgart championships nine years ago. 

The 28-year-old has proven himself as an effective lead-out man supporting trade team-mate Sam Bennett in recent years and notched a string of top 20 performances over the spring, fostering skills that will serve well racing in Emirates elements.

“If it’s a World Championships that I feel suits me, or I feel I could be a contributor in, then I will put my hand up,” Dempster said. “The last couple of years I’ve put my hand up and it hasn’t really come off, but then this year I think my racing has taken a step forward. I felt like I really could put my hand up straight away after the classics.

“I was so happy,” he continued. “I had been in contact with [national road director] Brad [McGee] and let him know that I was really interested in training, or preparing to be a part of the team, but to actually be a part of the team is a really great honour. I’m really pumped now to get there and make the most of this really cool opportunity.”

Aussie sprinters set for Qatar dust up
Michael Matthews, Caleb Ewan and Chloe Hosking headline the Australian team for the sprinter-friendly UCI Road World Championships.

The world titles this year will be held a month later than the traditional September time slot with consideration given to typically searing temperatures in Qatar. Dempster said the mercury and the time change, which makes for an especially long season, wasn’t likely to impact on outcomes.

“A lot of guys going to Qatar worlds probably didn’t do the Olympics so that gives everyone a bigger training period through August,” he said. “It’s such a motivating race for everyone that I’m sure it won’t have a great effect on who goes or that type of thing.

“As well, the worlds every year changing, provides an opportunity for a different type of rider, so if they do suit you and you’re a rider of that calibre to race for the win, then of course you want to take advantage of that.

“I don’t think it should play a big role, other than it’s Qatar and it’s going to be bloody hot.”

That shouldn’t be a problem for the Aussies.