Derek Gee's Contract Extension

Derek Gee's Contract Extension
Derek Gee working hard!

Derek Gee, also known as the Canadian Goose due to his avid bird watching past time recently signed a five year contract extension with Israel Premier Tech, also known by the acronym IPT. Let's dig into who Derek Gee is, why he resigned and what this means for both him and IPT.

Derek Gee claimed the hearts of many at the Giro a few weeks back in 2023. The Queens' University Honor Roll student was the epitome of a non negative racer, being in the break almost every day and claimed four seconds places and two fourths on his way to securing 980 UCI that were badly needed by IPT after being relegated last year.

We had inklings Derek was strong after coming from a track background, and being in the main break in Paris Roubaix this year, only to have his hopes dashed as his tyre blew out epically on the Arenberg segment. He was given 600:1 odds on the day of his first second place of the Giro (we know because we had him) but since then the betting markets, peloton and teams have realized just how strong Gee is.

Gee was signed with IPT through 2025 prior to extension at an undisclosed salary, but the salary was certainly less than what he was now worth given his breakthrough performance. At this point Gee had three options: wait out his contract, break his contract, or renegotiate with IPT a new contract.

Waiting out your contract is inherently risky for a rider who just had an incredible performance. It is not uncommon for riders to perform well one season and worse the next. It’s also not uncommon for riders to crash and get injured given the dangerous nature of cycling. This was especially the case for Gee, who’s breakout performances were highlighted by his ability to make the break and have the break win.

The Giro 2023 was unique in the sense of the reduced size of the peloton due to sickness and crashes, and led to the main GC candidates negative racing for most of the race. The main GC teams actively allowed break aways to form and go for the win on almost every stage. Would that occur in future grand tours? In future Giros? Most likely not. Gee’s performance, while outstanding, may not be replicated although we’d love for Gee to prove us wrong however! Given that, waiting out his contract was risky on a few levels.

Breaking his contract also would not have made sense unless a team was willing to cover the breakage fee, which oftentimes is exceedingly high. Wout van Aert was ordered to pay Nuyens, his prior team, €662,000 for breach of contract after being signed by Jumbo Visma in 2021. Jumbo's salary and also the "Jumbo" effect, the performance boost riders see when joining Jumbo, would have made this make sense. However for Gee it most likely would not have.

Breaking a contract also generally causes ill will between the rider and team he’s breaking the contract with. Teams become similar to family when you’re with them day in and day out. They see you at your worse, and at your best. The team that Gee was jumping ship to also would need to be able to offer Gee opportunities that aligned with Gee’s future goals. Many teams that could pay Gee’s breakage fees probably already had well worn GC contenders and all their “opportunity” slots filled up. IPT, Gee’s current team, still has room for Gee to not get boxed into being a “super domestique” and potentially grow into a general classification contender, classics rider, or stage hunter who isn’t bound by certain stages he’s “allowed” to go on if the team doesn’t need him as a domestique.

So what did Gee do? He took the third option and renegotiated with the team, extending his contract for five years until 2028, with each year being paid at a higher base salary. Rumours are it was for around 600k per year, and hence totalling three million over the course of the five years. Which for both parties is a good deal in our opinion. Here's why.

Gee could develop into an extremely strong general classification contender, say if he got a bit more punch, slightly lighter to climb better, and worked on his sprint. If IPT were to sign someone like that it could cost well more than 600k a year, likely 1.5 to 2 million a year. And if not, well Gee has proven he can be a great, if not excellent, stage hunter on his day. And boy oh boy do IPT need good stage hunters if they ever want to make it back to the World Tour level of cycling.
It’s a good hedge by IPT.

And for Gee, he’s now secure even if he crashes or even if his “stock peaked” at the Giro 2023. IPT also has the opportunity to allow him to grow, and to watch him develop, especially as their older GC riders like Michael Woods and Froome eventually head out the door.

It’s also worth taking stock of just how close riders get to their teams. Geraint Thomas resigned with INEOS in 2022 even though he knew he was getting less money than he could have and would be tasked with, in most cases, having to domestique for the new young riders on INEOS’ squad. Thomas, however, had grown accustomed to the atmosphere within the team, and had made friends with all the support staff and coaches. Similarly, in the press release on the signing, Gee stated that IPT had become a family to him. IPT, also being an informal Canadian team, with the likes of Hugo Houle and Michael Woods, probably didn't hurt.

We're always happy to hear your thoughts regarding cycling. Do you think this deal made sense for Gee? For Israel Premier Tech? Let us know on our socials.