June 14th, 2024

Canadian Derek Gee wears leader’s jersey after winning stage at Critérium du Dauphiné

By The Canadian Press on June 4, 2024.

Canadian cyclist Derek Gee is shown in this undated handout image provided by Israel-Premier Tech. Canadian cyclist Derek Gee won the third stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Tuesday and will start Wednesday's individual time trial wearing the leader's yellow jersey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Israel-Premier Tech **MANDATORY CREDIT **

LES ESTABLES, France – Canadian cyclist Derek Gee won the third stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Tuesday and will start Wednesday’s individual time trial wearing the leader’s yellow-and-blue jersey.

The 26-year-old from Ottawa was helped by Israel-Premier Tech teammate Krists Neilands in the final stretch of the 181.7-kilometre stage.

“It’s unbelievably special to win here.” said Gee. “I’ve been waiting for a win in Europe. I’ve come second several times. It was nice to finish it off. A massive part of it was Krists Neilands attacking with one kilometre to go and I was in a good position and it was strung out.

“I wasn’t planning on going there but as soon as he came back, there was a bit of a lull and I had to take advantage of it.”

The race, which runs through June 9 in the Dauphiné region of southeastern France, is considered a key warm-up events for the Tour de France.

Neilands led the way to the finish line with Gee making a countermove seconds after his teammate was caught. France’s Romain Gregoire stayed in the hunt only to see Gee sprint past him 150 meters from the finish line where fiancée Ruby was watching

“The goal coming into the race wasn’t necessarily for me to win a stage,” Gee explained. “We were going for Dylan (Teuns) most of the day, it was a good finish for him, but he made the call on the final climb saying “˜Boys if you have the legs, go for it’ and we took it up. I’m really happy to come away with it.”

Prior to Tuesday, Gee’s two previous wins on the road were in the Canadian Time Trial Championships in 2022 and 2023.

He looks forward to being decked in yellow and blue for the 34.4-kilometre time trail between Saint-Germain-Laval and Neulise.

“Wearing the yellow jersey is pretty special,” he said. “That’s going to be quite a feeling I think.”

Gee was promoted to Israel-Premier Tech’s WorldTour squad from its academy in May 2022. He signed a new long-term deal in June 2023, rewarded for his breakout performance at the Giro d’Italia.

Competing in his first Grand Tour race, Gee finishing second four times and fourth twice in last year’s Giro. He placed 22nd in the final general classification standings and was runner-up to Italy’s Jonathan Milan in the points race and France’s Thibaut Pinot in the King of the Mountains standings.

The Canadian was also honoured as the Giro’s “super combative rider.”

Canadian-Israeli entrepreneur Sylvan Adams is one of Israel-Premier Tech’s owners. Canadians Jean Belanger, president and CEO of Premier Tech based in Rivière-du-Loup. Que., and Kevin Ham are also partners in the team.

Canadians Paulo Saldanha, the team’s performance director, and Steve Bauer, a former star rider who now serves as sport director, are key members of the staff,

Israel-Premier Tech is also home to Canadian riders Michael Woods, Hugo Houle, Guillaume Boivin. and Riley Pickrell.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2024

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