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Bilbao Dedicates His Victory to Mäder: ‘I needed to to do my best for Gino’

By Monica Buck

Bahrain Victorious’s Pello Bilbao turned personal grief into professional glory with his maiden victory at the Tour de France, dedicating his triumph on stage ten to his recently deceased teammate, Gino Mäder. Mäder, who tragically passed away following a crash at the Tour de Suisse last month, has remained a constant influence within the cycling community. His memory is being honored, among other ways, through the #rideforGino stickers proudly displayed across the peloton.

Born in the Basque Country, where the Tour began this year, Bilbao found strength not only through his determination but also the love and support of his family. “The team did offer psychological help but in the end, for me, the best psychological help was to go on and stay with with my family, especially with my daughter Matilda… because kids don’t understand these difficult situations and so it was easier to forget all the difficult emotions we were feeling,” he explained.

His commitment to honoring Mäder’s memory doesn’t stop at the finish line. Bilbao has committed to donating €1 to a reforestation charity – a cause that Mäder cherished – for every rider who finishes a stage behind him. In a grander gesture of tribute, he has pledged to double his donation for each stage victory.

Despite the emotional weight of the recent weeks, Bilbao expressed his resolve during the pre-Tour training. He mentioned, “Slowly I started to feel better on the bike to believe that I had good legs that I needed to do my best for Gino and also to try to enjoy this special moment for me because starting the Tour de France in your home isn’t something that happens to everybody.”

Bilbao’s victory in the Massif Central came under challenging conditions, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. The rest day preceding the stage was crucial for Bilbao, allowing him to fully hydrate and prepare for the intense heat.

“The last three weeks have been really tense,” he shared, highlighting the heightened emotions of starting the race in his homeland. Yet, he maintained his poise, and took control of the race with a clear vision and effective decision-making, leading to his triumphant win.

While Bilbao is the one standing in the limelight, he was quick to acknowledge the support of his fellow riders. His victory may be a personal one, but for team Bahrain Victorious, it is a testament to their collective resilience, offering a ray of hope amidst the heartbreak.

Stage 10 results

1. Pello Bilbao, Bahrain Victorious, 03:52:34
2. Georg Zimmermann, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, +0:00
3. Ben O’Connor, AG2R Citroën Team, +0:00
4. Krists Neilands, Israel-Premier Tech, +0:00
5. Esteban Chaves, EF Education-EasyPost, +0:00
6. Antonio Pedrero, Movistar Team, +0:03
7. Mattias Skjelmose, Lidl-Trek, +0:27
8. Michal Kwiatkowski, INEOS Grenadiers, +0:27
9. Warren Barguil, Team Arkéa-Samsic, +0:30
10. Julian Alaphilippe, Soudal Quick-Step, +0:32