"Derek was was never the greatest talent. No one expected what he is showing now" - Israel - Premier Tech DS on Derek Gee's epic Dauphine

This year's Critérium du Dauphiné writes many stories. On one hand we have the resurrection of Primoz Roglic and Giulio Ciccone, on the other there are struggles of Remco Evenepoel and many riders hurt in crashes. But there is also a group of riders who rose much above their level to compete for top spots in the general classifcation. And arguably the greatest revelation of the French stage race must be the Canadian Derek Gee.

The Israel - Premier Tech rider only turned pro last year at the age of 25 and immediately left a strong impression at the Giro d'Italia in his grand tour debut, finishing runner-up in no less than four stages. "We then thought: he is in the shape of his life, he is performing a bit above his level. In fact, he already exceeded the expectations we had of him. He then had a very good winter and recently completed an altitude training camp. And it's all coming to fruition now," explains sports director Eric Van Lancker to WielerFlits.

With one more stage to go, Gee is currently sitting third overall 1:13 behind convincing leader of the race Primoz Roglic - winner of previous two stages, but the number two Matteo Jorgenson is only 11 seconds ahead of the Canadian. The impression is further amplified by the list of big names, Gee's exploits put into a bad frame. The likes of Carlos Rodríguez, Remco Evenepoel or David Gaudu will need a miracle to overthrow the Israel - Premier Tech from his seat on the podium.

"We are still looking at how far he can go in the rankings," says Van Lancker who can't hide his amazement from the Canadian's climbing performances. "I was personally very surprised. His stage victory in the Dauphiné was already very nice, but following the best climbers in the world is an impressive achievement. The nice thing is that we don't know where he might end up. Derek was in our training team and was never the greatest talent. No one expected what he is showing now. And he himself will never express great expectations. Derek is a very quiet and calm boy. Always polite. He will never be the first to tell great stories."

Gee can be seen as a late bloomer, only making the step among pros at the age of 25. "Typical for riders from the other side of the pond," notes Van Lancker. "Derek had and still has little experience. They don't race much there at a very young age. If you come from Europe, you participate in those big youth competitions year after year. He has never had that opportunity and that is why he may have more room for improvement than his peers. We at the team know how to handle someone like that. Our bosses, think of Sylvan Adams, are Canadian. We have Canadian roots. Maybe that's why Derek felt at home so quickly."

Van Lancker is well aware he may have a rough diamond in his hands. "It is a goal to have him go for the rankings more often in stage races in the future. I'm not talking about the Tour or the Giro. More like week-long stage races. He also has a good time trial, rides well uphill. When you combine the two, you know he can go far. But as I said, we are still looking for something. In the beginning he mainly thought about time trialling. He became Canadian champion against the clock, but that is not the strongest race at the moment. But now he is doing well in the mountains. We also tried it with him in the classics, he may also have a future there."

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