Race director Olivier Senn can understand criticism of the continuation of the Tour de Suisse after the accidental death of Gino Mäder. The decision was also “controversially discussed” internally, reported Senn after the seventh stage on Saturday: “There were all opinions. That is also to be respected. Everyone deals with it differently.” In his opinion, however, there is no right or wrong decision in this situation. “We hope it’s the less fake one.”
On Thursday, the 26-year-old Mäder fell into a ravine at high speed on the last kilometers of the fifth stage on the descent from the Albula Pass to the destination of La Punt and had to be resuscitated. A day later, the seriously injured Swiss died in hospital.
Criticism of the route quickly became loud. It is far too great a risk to place such a descent just before the finish, said Belgian road bike world champion Remco Evenepoel to Blick: “It wasn’t a smart idea to place the finish of such a stage after a descent. But you obviously still need more spectacle. Something just has to happen for you to react.”
Fabian Wegmann, on the other hand, defended the organizers of the Tour de Suisse. “As an organizer, you can’t completely secure such a long route and secure every pass with safety fences so that a driver can’t stray off the road. It’s not feasible in terms of time and money,” said the long-time professional. As head of sport, the 42-year-old supports the planning for the routes of the Deutschland Tour.
“It’s a catastrophe,” Wegmann explained: “The organizers have organized this stage quite often in this way. You can’t just say that now only the organizer is responsible. That was a driving mistake, after what I noticed.” But he also qualified: “You may have to make sure in the future that descents are not made so close to the finish.”
In fact, the course of the accident has not yet been officially clarified. Tour de Suisse doctor Roland Kretsch, who was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident, said that two riders had fallen and crashed down the embankment: “Probably excessive speed or braking too late or getting stuck, that’s not entirely clear.” The Graubünden cantonal police are currently reconstructing what happened and have called witnesses. “In particular, we are looking for people who could observe or even film the accident,” it said in a statement. The second driver, Magnus Sheffield, should also be able to help clarify things. The American escaped with minor injuries.
According to race director Senn, the decision to continue the tour despite the death was made shortly before midnight on Friday and with the consent of the deceased’s family. It would have been wrong for them to break off, and it would have been wrong for us too,” he explained after consulting Mäder’s relatives. It was “one of the most difficult decisions we had to make at the Tour de Suisse”.
Evenepoel won the penultimate stage on Saturday between Tübach and Weinfelden, the Belgian cycling star later dedicated the success to Mäder: “Of course, this victory goes to Gino and his family. It was the best way to honor him and show respect to his family. It didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t gain any time. That was for Gino alone.”
The Swiss cycling team Tudor Pro Cycling, the Belgian cycling team Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and Mäders Team Bahrain-Victorious had previously canceled their participation in the tour. In addition, 17 drivers from other teams withdrew. “We spoke to drivers and staff and together we decided not to continue,” Tudor wrote in a statement: “Under these circumstances, it is only human to show the necessary respect for the feelings of our drivers and Gino.”
The final time trial should be run normally on Sunday in St. Gallen. “Everyone can decide for themselves how they want to drive there, nothing will change there,” said race director Senn.
Tagesanzeiger: “He was at least as much a person as a professional cyclist. Gino Mäder donated to Swiss glaciers and always tried to be at peace with himself.”
NZZ: “Gino Mäder wanted to make the world a better place. He was much more than a professional cyclist with the potential for great victories: Gino Mäder from Switzerland, who died in an accident, was inspired by the claim to be there for others. He proved that athletes don’t have to be selfish. His candor was exceptional.”
Blick: “Then comes that one moment that changes everything, that ends a young life. In the case of Gino Mäder, we don’t know what happened in the accident. But we know that at this rate, it only takes a small thing to create a disaster. On June 16, fate suddenly took Gino Mäder from this world. A blink of an eye and nothing is the way it used to be. A tragedy for his loved ones. It shows us: there will never be risk-free sport.”
Aargauer Zeitung: “The whole drama of chance only becomes visible in sport. That’s why he’s the soul of the sport. But chance is a cruel god. The tragedy surrounding Gino Mäder shows that.”