The Swiss cyclist Gino Mäder, a former Giro d’Italia stage winner, has died at the age of 26 after crashing into a ravine at the Tour de Suisse on Thursday.
The Bahrain Victorious rider was airlifted to a hospital in Chur after being resuscitated by medical staff, having left the road on the Albula Pass as the race descended to La Punt during the fifth stage. The American Magnus Sheffield, of Ineos Grenadiers, was also involved and taken to hospital with concussion.
“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of Gino Mäder,” a statement from Bahrain Victorious said on Friday. “On Friday 16 June, following a very serious crash during stage five of the Tour de Suisse, Gino lost his battle to recover from the severe injuries he sustained. Our entire team is devastated by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with Gino’s family and loved ones.
“Despite the best efforts of the phenomenal staff at Chur hospital, Gino couldn’t make it through this, his final and biggest challenge, and at 11.30am we said goodbye to one of the shining lights of our team.”
Friday’s stage six was cancelled, with riders completing a 20km neutralised route in memory of Mäder. Fans at the roadside held up flowers as six Bahrain Victorious riders rode in formation, crossing the finish line in Oberwil-Lieli together, as the peloton followed behind and the crowd applauded.
“We’re heartbroken,” the race director, Olivier Senn, said before the ceremonial ride. “The whole organisation, the teams, the riders. It’s just devastating what happened. It’s really hard to put into words. We just stood together with all the teams and riders in memory of Gino.
“Gino was a fantastic rider and an excellent human,” Senn added. “He was really a good person and doesn’t deserve to leave the world like this. Today it’s about him, and no one else.”
Bahrain Victorious’s managing director, Milan Erzen, said: “We are devastated by the loss of our exceptional cyclist … His talent, dedication, and enthusiasm were an inspiration to us all … Not only was he an extremely talented cyclist, but a great person off the bike.”
Mader won stage six of the 2021 Giro after emerging on top following a breakaway on the 160km stage from Grote di Frasassi to San Giacomo.
On Thursday evening the world champion, Remco Evenepoel of Soudal Quick-Step, criticised the Tour de Swiss race organisers’ choice of route, while urging fellow riders to exercise caution. “I hope that the final of today’s stage is food for thought for both cycling organisers as well as ourselves as riders,” Evenepoel wrote on Twitter.
“While a summit finish would have been perfectly possible, it wasn’t a good decision to let us finish down this dangerous descent. As riders, we should also think about the risks we take going down a mountain.”