By Nick Bull
Rapha-Condor-Sharp's Zak Dempster remains hopeful of landing a dream move to a WorldTour team for 2012 after a promising stagiaire performance for HTC-Highroad at the Tour of Utah (August 9-14).
The Australian has been talking to Bob Stapleton's outfit since the spring, which coincided with his impressive victories in the Tour DoonHame, Dengie Marshes Tour and the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic.
Unfortunately for Dempster, the offer to race for them in America came just days before the team's decision to close at the end of the year was announced.
Despite knowing a contract for next year wasn't on offer, he wanted to show he can make the step up to cycling's top flight.
"I couldn't pass up on the opportunity, and it was nice to prove to myself that I can do it at the highest level," Dempster told Cycling Weekly.
"I'm disappointed that they're not continuing but the staff and riders will move to new teams so that could still help me for next year."
HTC's sports director Allan Peiper, who is Garmin-Cervélo bound for 2012, praised his fellow Aussie in their post race debrief, while Tejay Van Garderen thanked him personally for his efforts.
And what did Dempster make of his role as a domestique?
"I had more responsibility and a lot more to do, ranging from hitting the bottom of a climb hard or waiting for Teejay while nature called," Dempster said.
He rejoined his Rapha team-mates last week for a pre-Tour of Britain training camp, and praised John Herety and his sponsors for allowing him to race with HTC.
"I cannot thank them enough, especially as it's not easy to let a rider go for two weeks," said Dempster, who returned to the domestic scene in Sunday's Twinings Pro-Am Tour in Wiltshire.
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