Posted by Editor on 05/26/23
Once again, Derek Gee (Israel Premier Tech) has come heartbreakingly close to a stage victory at the Giro d'Italia, finishing second on Stage 19, on Friday. This was Gee's fourth second place in what is his first ever Grand Tour, and it came on the Queen stage of the race, a 183 kilometre race from Longarone to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, including five categorized climbs and finishing at the top of an HC (Beyond Category) ascent. Gee managed to move up another four spots, and now sits in 22nd overall.
Gee was part of the early break - his seventh time in a race long winning move - of 13 riders, ostensibly there to collect some Intermediate Sprint points and secure his second place overall in the Sprint competition standings. However, the break kept rolling along, and then Gee started racking up KoM points. He was third at the first KoM over Passo Campolongo, won the second KoM over Passo Valparola, and then the third one over Passo Glau, moving him up to third in the KoM competition. Gee then took the Intermediate Sprints, solidifying his position in second place (the leader, Jonathan Milan (of Bahrain-Victorious is uncatchable). He then won the fourth KoM at Passo Tre Croci, leaving just the finish line to go.
The lead group had dwindled to just four, when Gee attacked with seven kilometres to go, shattering the chase. He opened an initial gap to 13 seconds before Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) began to chase more seriously. The Colombian climbing expert brought the gap down to seven seconds but seemed to stall, before again whittling away at Gee's lead. Under the 2K banner, Gee had a couple of seconds, but it was clear he was struggling on the 14% grade (and altitude), Buitrago jumped by him at 1.5 kilometres to go, to take the win. Gee hung on for second, moving him solidly into second in the KoM competition, behind leader Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), who has an insurmountable lead.
"I just wanted to go in the break for the [Sprint] points so I could secure second [overall]," explained Gee. "Then they gave us a bigger and bigger gap and I had to wrap my head around going to the finish again. I knew Buitrago was gone as soon as he caught me; the acceleration was ridiculous. But I didn't know where everyone else was; I didn't know where the GC guys were. So I just went to the line. It's kind of high up here [2300+ metres] and not a lot of oxygen, so it hurt for sure. I think it's going to take a while to sink in [finishing second on the Tre Cimo]; I can't wrap my head around it. I'm glad I've moved into second [in the KoM competition], that's cool. If I'd stayed in the peloton there was no chance ... I might have finished second a lot, but at least I've given myself a shot."
Behind, the GC leader group was steadily whittled down to the three contenders - Pink Jersey holder Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) and Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates). At the finish, Roglic managed a little jump to take back three seconds on Thomas, but Almeida was gapped by a further 20 seconds. Thomas goes into the Stage 20 time trial with a 26 second lead on Roglic, with Almeida at 59 seconds.
Giro Stage 19 results: Another 2nd Place for Gee
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