Derek Gee is having a season a first year neo pro can only dream of. His 35 race days to date have all been at WorldTour races, he made the breakaway at Paris – Roubaix and was the first rider to enter the Arenberg Forest and today, he sprinted to second place on Giro d’Italia stage eight.

For a guy who came to his debut Grand Tour with the goal of “just surviving”, Gee is thriving. His smile at the finish line after he won the three-man sprint for second place, after spending the day in the breakaway, said it all.

It feels like a win. I’m over the moon. Coming into this Giro, I thought I had no chance, I was just trying to survive and get experience so this is amazing. It’s really confidence inspiring to have the team believe in me and put me in a calendar like this so I’m really happy that I can validate that,” said Gee.

When the flag dropped on the outskirts of Terni, the battle for the breakaway was on. IPT had multiple cards to play and Gee, Mads Würtz Schmidt, and Stevie Williams were all present in moves that were brought back. Eventually, Gee made it into a four-rider breakaway but with the peloton not content, the gap remained at 20 seconds and the battle raged for more than 60 kilometers.

Eventually, nine riders bridged across to Gee’s group and when the peloton sat up, the gap extended to more than five minutes. With known climbers in the breakaway, and more than 2500 meters of climbing on the cards, IPT´s 25-year-old Canadian track cyclist had to be smart.

It hurt so bad and I thought maybe we would be caught but at the same time, I wanted to stay away. The four of us went away really early at the top of that first climb and we were just dangling there forever but I heard on the radio that the guys were doing a really good job of covering moves so I thought we would have a good chance of staying away. When the other guys came across I just started counting guys that were big names and I was thinking if this goes to the line, I’m going to have a tough time cracking the top-ten.”

When Ben Healy attacked on the first ascent of the Cappuccini, Gee continued to tackle the steep gradient at his own pace and crossed the summit around 30 seconds behind. On the next climb, an attack from Barguil and Verona split the group and Gee dug deep to find himself in the first chase group.

The chase group forged on, around two minutes behind Healy, and on the second ascent of the Cappuccino, Gee was fighting for the podium. Dropped slightly on the early slopes, Gee clawed his way back and crossed the KOM in third position on the road before chasing back on the descent and run into the finish.

“Kudos to Ben. When he went on that first climb he just disappeared so I was just really hoping to get on the podium. The climb was brutal but it flattened out over the top and I could see Zana just a few meters in front of me and I knew I had to make it to him before it flattened out or it would be way harder to catch him on the descent. So that was my motivation and I knew Barguil was behind and he was a good descender and he had been flying all day so I wanted to at least get a gap on him before the really technical descent.”

Giro d’Italia 2023 – 106th Edition – 8th stage Terni – Fossombrone 207 km – 13/05/2023 – Derek Gee (CAN – Israel – Premier Tech) – photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2023

Although he led the three-man chase group out on the finish straight, Gee launched his sprint with 200 meters to go and didn’t look back.

“I was really hoping for a podium so when Barguil came back, it was guaranteed anymore so it was a little stressful. I think my pride as the heaviest guy in that group was on the line and when I opened up my sprint, I just hoped I could hold them off.”

Sports Director Sam Bewley was in the race car behind Gee and had nothing but praise for the Canadian’s performance.

We wanted to get a rider in the breakaway and we had half the team on the attack so we were really happy when Derek made it into the group. We wanted to reduce the 13 riders to a smaller group before the climb to give Derek the option to back himself on the climb and he backed himself. It was a strong breakaway with quite a few riders typically better suited to the stage profile so what we saw today is just how strong and gutsy Derek is. I don’t think even he realises how a big a ride he did today and it won’t be the last time we see him ride like this,” Bewley added.