Israel – Premier Tech’s Derek Gee continues to impress in his first ever Grand Tour. On stage 13, the Canadian neo-pro finished fourth in the high mountains.
“Looking at myself and then the other guys, some of the best climbers in the world, I was thinking that I didn’t belong here. But my legs felt really good so I just carried on and I’m really happy with the result”, Gee said after realizing what he had just achieved in the stage.
Due to the bad weather conditions, the stage got shortened in the morning, with the first of three category 1 climbs taken out of the equation. However, despite the new distance of just 75 km, the stage was still extremely hard.
Right from the bottom of the first climb, Matthew Riccitello attacked, eager to get up the road. Soon after, Gee joined his American teammate and a small group took shape.
“Matthews was super active, but he kept getting chased back so I really wanted to get up there and help him get a gap. My legs were good so I kept going and I ended up the road with a bunch of skinny boys”, Gee laughed as he points out his own weight of 75kg, not exactly that of a climber.
Disregarding the steep percentages on Croix de Coeur, Gee kept setting a high pace and at the top of the climb, the group had a gap of 2:30 minutes on the highly reduced peloton.
In the valley towards the final ascent to Crans-Montana, the gap grew to over four minutes. Riccitello had been reeled in by the bunch at this point but there was no stopping Gee at the front. Not even on the opening slopes of the climb, as he kept hanging on in the company of some of the best climbers in the world.
“Even when we got into the valley and had a good gap, I still didn’t really believe that I could fight for the win. I was sure I would just blow up and come to a standstill on that last climb because it was so hard, but my sports director, Oscar, paced me through it really really well.”
Ultimately, the 23-year-old Canadian had to let go but he still had enough left in the legs to finish fourth on the stage. Previously, Gee has finished second on two occasions, proving to be the big revelation of this year’s Giro d’Italia. However, he assures that neither him nor his IPT teammates are done showing great things in the race.
“I can’t believe what I’ve done here. Coming in to this Giro, I definitely wouldn’t have expected this but I’m really happy with where my legs are. The whole team is flying and I just can’t wait for the next couple of the days!”