(Thônes) Canadian cyclist Derek Gee celebrated his first podium in the general classification of a WorldTour event on Sunday by finishing third in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, one of the favorites ahead of the Tour de France, won the eight-day race by eight seconds over American Matteo Jorgenson and 28 seconds over Gee.

The Critérium du Dauphiné is considered a key preparation race before the Tour de France.

Eleven riders have won this competition and the Tour de France in the same year, the latest being the Dane Jonas Vingegaard in 2023.

Gee thanked his Israel-Premier Tech teammates for their support during a grueling finale that included 3,640 meters of elevation gain and a final ascent of 9.4 kilometers.

“I’m really happy I was able to do this because the guys gave me everything,” said an exhausted Gee after the race. “I’m really happy that I was able to finish this race. »

Spaniard Carlos Rodríguez won the final 160.6 kilometer stage, which started in Thieres and finished at Plateau des Glieres, with Jorgenson second and Gee third. Roglic finished sixth.

Gee, 26, from Ottawa, was part of a small lead group, but was eventually dropped by Rodriguez and Jorgenson.

Quebecer Hugo Houle, a color wearer for Israel-Premier Tech, finished 64th in the general ranking.

Gee, who entered Sunday’s final stage third overall, also finished fourth in the points standings and sixth in the climbers category.

Gee turned heads last year in his first Grand Tour race, finishing second four times and fourth twice at the Giro d’Italia.

He placed 22nd in the final general classification and was beaten by Italian Jonathan Milan in the points race and Frenchman Thibaut Pinot in the king of the mountain classification.

The Canadian was also honoured as the Giro’s “super combative rider”.