Canadian rider Derek Gee has been rewarded for his breakout performance at the Giro d'Italia with a new long-term contract with Israel-Premier Tech.
The 25-year-old from Ottawa was promoted to Israel-Premier Tech's pro team in May 2022, signing a three-year deal in moving up from the team's academy. On Tuesday, Israel-Premier Tech said it had replaced that with a new contract that runs through 2028.
“We knew Derek had a big engine when we took a chance on him, and signed him to our U23 Continental program a couple of years ago," team owner Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-Israeli entrepreneur, said in a statement. "But, at this year’s Giro, Derek proved that he has race smarts and the ability to perform with the best riders in the pro peloton.
"It was a real coming out party for Derek, along with the young teammates who accompanied him on our Giro squad."
Gee turned heads last month in his first Grand Tour race, finishing second four times and fourth twice. 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.''
“Derek Gee is a phenomenal rider and one we see as a future leader of this team," said Israel-Premier Tech general manager Kjell Carlstrom. "His physical and mental strength make him one of the most exciting bike riders in the pro peloton and when you consider this is just his first year professional, we can’t wait to see what he can do in the future.
"By signing him through to 2028, we are laying the foundation for Derek to develop into the best rider he can be. Beyond Derek’s racing talent, he is truly one of the nicest and most humble riders we have had the pleasure of working with and I think the whole cycling world saw this shine through in the way he presented himself on and off the bike at the Giro. The future is looking bright with Derek in IPT colours."
Gee, who is now based out of Girona, Spain, said signing the long-term contract was an easy decision.
"I know another five years is a long time, especially in the cycling world, but this team feels like home," he said. "The relationship I have with the riders, staff and management, and the direction I can see the team going from a performance standpoint, is something I’m incredibly keen to be a part of for the long term. It also gives me the stability to take a step back and try new directions as a rider that may not have even been something I was considering before the Giro.”
“I honestly can’t say exactly which direction I want to go as a rider and what I want to achieve in that direction, but for now the biggest thing on my mind after the Giro is just getting a win. So many second places made me extremely hungry to get that first win and hopefully one day get a stage win in a Grand Tour. "
Israel-Premier Tech is also home to Canadian riders Michael Woods, Hugo Houle and Guillaume Boivin. Former Canadian star rider Steve Bauer serves as sport director for the team, whose lead sponsor Premier Tech is a company based in Riviere-du-Loup, Que.
Canadians Carson Mattern, Dylan Bibic and Kelly Pickrell are on Israel-Premier Tech's academy roster.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023
The Canadian Press