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Israel – Premier Tech on Derek Gee: ‘He is made for stage racing’

After an impressive performance at the Dauphiné, the Canadian’s team is backing him for future major results

Israel - Premier Tech on Derek Gee: ‘He is made for stage racing’ Photo by: Sirotti

What a week for Derek Gee. The Israel – Premier Tech finished third, just 36 seconds behind Criterium du Dauphiné winner Primož Roglič. In the final stage, in fact, Gee rode with American Matteo Jorgenson and Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez, as Roglič got dropped. Jorgenson put lots of time into the Slovenian, but not enough to steal the jersey. Roglič ended up keeping the lead by just eight seconds. But seeing the Ottawa native stay on the wheels of climbers as the 2023 Giro d’Italia winner could not, was impressive.

Canadians had been following Gee for several years. He’s been multiple national champion, and a strong force on the track. He represented Canada in the 2020 Olympics after winning the Canadian elite individual pursuit and omnium titles. In Tokyo, he competed in the team pursuit, achieving an impressive fifth-place finish, Canada’s best result in the event since 1932

However, the rest of the world only started noticing him at the 2023 Giro d’Italia, where he joined the breakaway in seven stages and finished second four times, finishing 22nd overall.

It was at the Dauphiné where he took his first win as a pro, winning Stage 3 over Romain Grégoire in a brilliant double surge.

He would go on to finish top-5 in three mountain stages, along with a strong 6th place in the TT.

According to team manager Rik Verbrugghe, this is just the beginning.

“For the outside world, this is a surprise and actually for us too,” Verbrugghe said in an interview with Sporza .”Derek had just completed a 3-week altitude training camp, and we immediately saw that he was in good shape. We came here aiming for a top 10 finish.”

What impressed the team the most was Gee’s climbing.

“But that he could climb with guys like Roglic and Jorgenson, the best climbers, was a pleasant surprise for us.”

The 26-year-old shifted his focus from track to the road in 2022. After his Giro ride, the team started to plan ahead for Gee.

“That’s when we realized as a team that he could build a career as a stage racer,” Verbrugghe said. “Yet he could also perform well in classics. In Paris-Roubaix, he was doing well until he had a flat tire in the Forest of Arenberg. He can actually do a bit of everything.”

After the Giro, the team knew there was much more that Gee could do, which was why they signed him until 2028.

“We are building with Derek. Since the Giro, he has already lost 4 kg, but there’s still a bit to go. He is made for stage racing.”

Gee should be riding the Tour, but will the team back him as a GC rider? It’s still too early to know, Verbrugghe explained.

“I think his performance here guarantees him a selection. But I think it’s still too early to aim for a general classification, more for stage wins,” the former Belgian pro explained.

The Tour de France begins June 29 in Florence. You can watch it on FloBikes.com