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The Israel-Premier Tech cycling team added another Canadian rider to its WorldTour squad, signing Derek Gee to a three-year contract while promoting him from its academy.
Israel Premier-Tech is home to Canadian riders Michael Woods, Hugo Houle, Alex Cataford, Guillaume Boivin and James Piccoli. The team is co-owned by Canadian-Israeli entrepreneur Sylvan Adams, a former Canadian Masters cycling champion who emigrated to Israel in 2015.
Former Canadian star rider Steve Bauer serves as sport director for Israel-Premier Tech, whose lead sponsor Premier Tech is a company based in Riviere-du-Loup, Que.
Gee, a 24-year-old from Ottawa, joined the Israel Cycling Academy earlier his year and turned heads when he finished fifth in the final time trial at the Gran Camino race in February against a competitive WorldTour-level field.
"We are really happy to welcome Derek Gee to Israel-Premier Tech on a three-year deal, which is a sign of our confidence in him and his abilities," Israel-Premier Tech GM Kjell Carlstrom said in a statement. "He has an impressive background as a track rider which has given him a great base to build on as a road race."
"Obviously, Canada is an important country for our team and we are proud to be developing the next generation of Canadian cyclists, and look forward to seeing Derek race with us for the next three years," he added.
Gee is a 13-time Canadian track cycling champion.
"My experiences with Israel Cycling Academy and Israel-Premier Tech so far have been amazing," said Gee. "I know that getting to race with the WorldTour team multiple times already and the things I've learned doing that will be hugely beneficial when I take the step up next year.
"The ITT at Gran Camino gave me a lot of confidence moving forward," said Gee. "I still have a lot to work on in the time trial but knowing that getting up there and fighting for wins in high level races is something that's attainable motivates me hugely.
"I'm still trying to find where my strengths are on the road, and I've been given a huge variety of races this year from the team to help me figure that out."
Gee is the second academy rider to make the jump this year, joining Italian Marco Frigo.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press