Gino Mäder (1997 - 2023), 'child of the Alps' who took care of himself and the world around him Cycling

Gino Mäder (1997 - 2023), 'child of the Alps' who took care of himself and the world around him

Gino Mäder (1997 - 2023), 'child of the Alps' who took care of himself and the world around him

A smile - that's how you could recognize Gino Mäder. He always had that wide smile on his face, which unfortunately will never be seen again by his family, friends, teammates and everyone who loved him. A tribute.

He was certainly no "ordinary" cyclist, that Mäder. The action he initiated before the 2021 Tour of Spain was significant: for every rider he beat in each stage, he donated 1 euro to an environmental organization. In the general classification, this amounted to 10 euros.

Ultimately, that Vuelta became his grand moment: Mäder, who had always been known as a great climbing talent, rose above himself and finished fifth overall. He also won the white jersey as the best young rider. These achievements 'cost' him a total of 4,529 euros, which he donated to Justdiggit. This charity works towards greening Africa in order to combat climate change on the continent.

Mäder as an advocate for 'face of the Alps'

In 2022, Mäder came up with a similar initiative. "As a child, I was fortunate enough to see glaciers, the face of the Alps also known as the eternal ice," he wrote at the time. "However, there is nothing eternal about it, as we lose 300 billion tons of ice every year. I hope that future generations will also be able to experience glaciers, so this year I will donate 1 Swiss franc for every rider who finishes behind me in every race I compete in. With this, I hope to contribute to the fight against climate change."

It illustrated his approach to life: Gino Mäder, born on January 4, 1997, in Flawil, was someone who found freedom on his two-wheeler. "I don't see myself as a pro, I just love riding my bike and enjoying the nature around me. Cycling is more than just results, the freedom and the scent of nature are the most beautiful things. And I even get paid for it." That freedom was also reflected in his style of racing, which we can rightfully call hyper-attacking.

The fact that he was of course paid for it stemmed from his talent. Not only the talent to ride a bike, but also the talent to - just look at his efforts for the climate - to put things into perspective. When Primoz Roglic passed him in the final meters of Paris-Nice 2021, keeping him from claiming his first major victory, he dryly remarked, "I guess I just need to get a little stronger..."

Gino Mäder (1997 - 2023), 'child of the Alps' who took care of himself and the world around him

With his curls and distinctive smile, he was a popular figure from a young age, both within and outside of the peloton. In 2018, he made a breakthrough at the age of 21 with good performances in the Tour de l'Avenir, where he stood on the podium by winning two tough mountain stages alongside Tadej Pogacar and Thymen Arensman.

It was no wonder that WorldTour teams showed considerable interest in the top talent afterward. However, he did not choose the conventional path. He decided to sign a contract with the African Dimension Data team, which continued as NTT in 2020. Unlike his contemporary Pogacar, he did not have an immediate breakthrough, but in the 2020 Vuelta, we saw glimpses of a new kid on the block with a second-place finish at La Covatilla.

Mäder was able to continue on that trajectory in 2021 with a new team, Bahrain Victorious. After narrowly missing out on a stage win in Paris-Nice, the Mäder train thundered through the season, with magnificent stage victories in the Giro d'Italia and his own Tour de Suisse, resulting in his fifth-place finish in the Vuelta. Around that Tour of Spain, he also gained the respect of a large part of the cycling audience with his climate iniative, which he kept his followers informed about throughout the three weeks.

Mäder not only took care of the world around him, but also of his own body

In 2022, he was supposed to compete in the Tour de France for the first time in his career, but ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from starting. "Corona is a new disease, we don't know much about it yet," he expressed his choice not to train with the virus in his system. Caring for his body, therefore. "It seemed foolish to train with COVID-19, so I didn't. And starting the Tour without training would also be quite foolish."

That same virus also prevented him from participating in the Giro d'Italia this season and he dealt with it in his own way. "Maybe I should just stop announcing my goals," he jokingly said. "Then we'll see if COVID-19 can still catch me. Anyway, I will take my rest and enjoy being at home. To my replacement, Yukiya Arashiro: I hope you enjoy your three-week all-inclusive trip through Italy."

Two weeks after finishing the Giro, Mäder started the Tour de Suisse with great enthusiasm. With his trademark smile, he stepped onto the team presentation podium in Einsiedeln, in his home country, where he took the time to engage in a bottle flip challenge with a Swiss TV station. When asked what it would take for him to be satisfied after eight days of racing, he replied, "If I am still healthy next Sunday and have enjoyed the race in my home country..."

This year's Tour de Suisse would end in St. Gallen, the capital of the canton where his cradle stood just a few kilometers away in Flawil. However, his circle of life proved to be finite in the hospital of Chur, where he took his last breath in the presence of his loved ones after a serious, unfortunate crash. Rest in peace, Gino.

Place comments



More comments

You are currently seeing only the comments you are notified about, if you want to see all comments from this post, click the button below.

Show all comments

More Cycling News