In a tragic turn of events, the cycling world has been left reeling by the untimely death of Swiss Olympic road cyclist, Gino Mäder. The accomplished athlete, born on 4 January 1997 in Flawil, Switzerland, died at the age of 26 as a result of a collision during the Tour de Suisse on June 16, 2023.
A Rising Star in Cycling
Mäder’s journey into the world of professional cycling began on the track. He competed at the high level 2016 UEC European Track Championships in the team pursuit event before fully turning professional on the road in 2019 with UCI WorldTeam Team Dimension Data.
He later rode for Team Bahrain Victorious and shone brightly in the sport, becoming a beacon of talent, determination, and passion. His notable achievements included an individual stage win at the Giro d’Italia in 2021, and a commendable performance at the 2021 Vuelta a España where he overhauled Egan Bernal to secure the lead in the young rider classification.
The Fateful Day at the Tour de Suisse
Mäder met his untimely end while competing in the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse. He was involved in a high-speed crash with American Magnus Sheffield, 21, while descending the Albula Pass. The catastrophic accident resulted in Mäder falling into a ravine.
Despite immediate resuscitation at the scene and subsequent airlift to a hospital in Chur, the Swiss cyclist could not be saved. He passed away the following morning, marking a dark day in the history of the sport.
The Aftermath and Tributes
The shock and grief reverberated throughout the cycling community, with the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse being cancelled. The peloton rode the final 20km of the route in a neutralised tribute to Mäder, a poignant expression of respect and solidarity.
Tributes poured in, remembering Mäder as an extraordinary athlete and a valued member of the team. Team Bahrain Victorious vowed to race in his honour, keeping his memory alive on every road they race. “Not only was he an extremely talented cyclist but a great person off the bike. We are determined to show the spirit and passion Gino displayed, and he will always remain an integral part of our team,” said team managing director Milan Erzen.
Tour de Suisse race director Olivier Senn expressed his heartbreak over the incident, saying, “We just stood together with all the teams and riders in memory of Gino and that’s all that counts for us at the moment. Gino was a fantastic rider and an excellent human, he was really a good person and he doesn’t deserve to leave the world like this”.
Safety Concerns Rekindled
Mäder’s tragic accident rekindled safety concerns in the sport. The last high-profile rider death in similar circumstances at the World Tour level was in 2011, when Belgium’s Wouter Weylandt crashed at the Giro d’Italia after descending at great speed and died soon afterwards from head injuries.
After the conclusion of stage five, Soudal-Quickstep rider and road race world champion Remco Evenepoel expressed concerns over the “dangerous descent” at the finish, shedding light on the inherent risks that professional cyclists face during races.
Gino Mäder will be remembered as a shining star in the world of cycling. His passion for the sport, his determination, and his achievements will continue to inspire future generations of cyclists. His absence will be deeply felt, both within the peloton and throughout the sport.