Immediately after the conclusion of Thursday’s stage 5, the reigning UCI world road race champion Remco Evenepoel had criticized race organizers for including the descent in the stage. Taking to Twitter, Evenepoel wrote, “I hope that the final of today’s stage is food for thought for both cycling organizers as well as ourselves as riders. 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.”
On Friday, the Soudal–Quick-Step leader tweeted: “Gino, thank you for the light, the joy, and the laughs you brought us all, we will miss you as a rider and as a person.”
“Our entire team is devastated by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with Gino’s family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” Bahrain Victorious said in a statement. “Gino was an extraordinary athlete, an example of determination, a valued member of our team and the whole cycling community. His talent, dedication, and passion for the sport has inspired us all.”
The team also said that Mäder had to be resuscitated at the scene of the accident by medical staff, who also performed CPR, before he was airlifted to a nearby hospital. “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,” the team statement declared.
Mäder had been a professional road cyclist since 2019. In his brief career he won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2021 and won the young rider’s jersey at the Vuelta a España the same year. In 2022, he finished second in the Tour de Romandie and this year finished fifth in the eight-day Paris-Nice. At the 2021 Vuelta, Mäder pledged to donate to charity €10 for every rider he beat in the general classification as well as €1 for every rider he beat on each stage. That turned out to be a total of €4,529, which he donated to the Dutch environmental organization JustDiggit.
In a statement published on Twitter, race organizers said that the last 20km of Fridays stage 6 would not be competitive but instead would be ridden in Mäder’s memory. Above a photo of the smiling Swiss rider, the tweet read, “This is how we will always remember you. With a big smile on your face! The peloton will ride the last 20 kilometers of today’s course neutralized in honor of Gino Mäder.”