Derek Gee’s incredible ride continues at Giro d’Italia
If you thought the name of the event was the Gee-ro d’Italia, you wouldn’t be entirely mistaken.
With just two days of racing left to go, Canadian cyclist Derek Gee is arguably the most intriguing story of this year’s Giro d’Italia.
In his first ever Grand Tour, the neo-pro with the Israel Premier-Tech team has become the talk of the road cycling world for his multiple breakaway efforts which have resulted in runner-up finishes in four stages.
On Friday, his emotions were on full display as he once again came oh so close to earning a stage victory on the third-last day of the three-week race.
In the mountainous 19th stage in the Dolomites region of northeast Italy, Gee went on a late attack immediately after conquering the Tre Croci Pass, earning him valuable points towards the King of Mountain classification. But there was still one more climb to a summit finish and he just could not hold off a late chaser. With less than two kilometres to go, Colombian rider Santiago Buitrago passed Gee to take the stage win by 51 seconds.
In a Grand Tour, it’s not just about what happens in each stage. On Friday, Gee won the intermediate sprint in Cortina, which secured him second place in the overall points classification for the Maglia Ciclamino (purple jersey). He also made a move up the overall standings for the Maglia Azzurra (blue jersey) given to the King of the Mountains, getting himself into second place. In addition to his win in the Tre Croci Pass, he also won the climbs of the Valparola Pass and the Passo Giau on Friday.
When Gee finished second in the eighth stage of the Giro back on May 13, it was truly a sign of great things to come. Just a few days later, he was barely outsprinted at the finish line of the 10th stage to get another second place. After a fourth-place finish in Stage 13, he was again beaten by less than a wheel length the following day, earning a third runner-up placement. Stage 18 saw him get another fourth-place finish.
It was not even two years ago that Gee was representing Canada in track cycling as he made his Olympic debut on the velodrome at Tokyo 2020. Over the last three weeks, the 25-year-old has become a real star of road cycling, for both what he’s done on his bike and his attitude while doing it. He’s even had his own small Canadian cheer squad on his journey around Italy.
Sunday will bring the 3489.2-kilometre Giro d’Italia to a close in the streets of Rome. The penultimate stage on Saturday is an 18.6km time trial before the final very flat stage of 135 kilometres. No matter what Gee does this weekend, he can be assured that he’s already written one of the great Canadian Grand Tour stories.