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Derek Gee climbed with the best: What does this mean for the Tour?

The Canadian hung with Roglič et al. on the final climb in an incredible ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné

How far can Derek Gee go? IPT sees echoes of Geraint Thomas in its Canadian protogé Photo by: Sirotti

Derek Gee shocked cycling fans, and maybe himself, at the Critérium du Dauphiné when he finished fourth behind stage winner Primož Roglič on a tough summit finale.

Roglič triumphed on Friday’s first of three consecutive summit finish stages at the Critérium du Dauphiné, seizing the yellow jersey from Remco Evenepoel, who had begun the day with a 33-second lead over the Slovenian. The four-time Grand Tour winner now leads the Belgian by 19 seconds. Derek Gee continued to impress, securing fourth place in the stage and maintaining his fourth place in the general classification.

Gee was part of a 40-rider group chasing the last rider of the early breakaway, Romain Grégoire. Gee’s powerful effort led the group of favourites, eventually causing Evenepoel to be dropped. This allowed Roglič to bridge over to his teammate Vlasov and De Plus. Mikel Landa worked hard to minimize Evenepoel’s losses. Aleksandr Vlasov, Roglič, and Giulio Ciccone pushed ahead, with Gee chasing alongside Matteo Jorgenson and De Plus. As the groups approached the final kilometre, Evenepoel launched a solo pursuit to defend his yellow jersey.

Roglič overtook his teammate but couldn’t drop Ciccone until the last 200 metres, securing his second WorldTour victory of the season. Vlasov’s third place moved him up to fifth in the GC, just 31 seconds behind Gee, who is closing in on Jorgenson’s podium position. For Gee, it was foreign territory to be in the move on a summit finish.

“Maybe I even did too much work on the climb. I’ve never been in that position,” he said. “That was pretty cool. They started playing games, but usually I’m already gone at that point. It was awesome.”

The Israel – Premier Tech rider took a huge win just two days ago as well, his first WorldTour victory. At the 2023 Giro d’Italia, Gee became the talk of the town after he scored four second places. His breakaways made him one of the more popular riders at the Grand Tour, and cycling fans were excited to see what he would do. And the wait has been worth it: Friday’s stage has shown he’s levelled up since 2023.

What does that mean for the Tour de France? Gee has been selected for the Tour de France, along with fellow Canadian Hugo Houle. But will his recent results change the strategy for his first time at the Grand Boucle?

Most likely before Friday’s performance, the team must have been planning for a similar approach as his Giro in 2023: looking for stage win opportunities in the second and third weeks. It worked for Houle in 2022, and Woods in 2023.

According to some reports, four-time Tour winner Chris Froome will be back in France with IPT, his first go since 2022. Despite his experience and palmarès, would the team still back him for GC aspirations? Or rather, give Gee a shot? The 26-year-old rode a fine time trial at the Dauphiné, finishing 6th. And if Friday’s stage is proof he can climb with the top riders, this could change everything.

Granted, it is the Dauphiné and some riders may be holding back. Evenepoel said he is prioritizing getting fitness over a GC placing, which could explain why he rode his own pace on the final climb, as opposed to trying to match the Slovenian.

And it’s safe to say that although Roglič is one of the best GC riders in the world, having won multiple Grand Tours, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar are still a level above. Finally, the Dauphiné is one week, versus three. Although Gee was consistent in his breakaway attempts, and finished 22nd overall, he also picked his moments. To finish in the top-10, say, at the Tour de France means you need to be up there with the top riders on every summit, every time trial, and every critical stage.

Either way, it’s exciting to see another Canadian enter the fray as a possible GC rider. In the past few years, climber Woods has changed his approach to Grand Tours from the overall classification. Is it possible Gee is the new hope for IPT and we will see him as the designated leader when the Tour begins in Florence on June 29?

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