Swiss pro cyclist Gino Mäder has died at the age of 26. The cycling world stands still. Lorenzo Fortunabro is one of those devastated. But he wonders why. In this text, he tries to find the answer.
Gino Mäder is no longer with us. To write this sentence is incomprehensible and unbearable. A 26-year-old man. A young man who shared our passion. Gone. Forever.
The news hit us hard on Friday morning. Since then, I am devastated. I am deeply moved by his death. And honestly, as I am a guy who is hardly emotionally shaken by incidents like these, I ask myself: Why?
Why is it Gino’s death which gets me off course? Why do I feel like someone close to me died although I never met Gino in real life? I know that many other people within the cycling community have the same questions. I wish to find an answer.
First, I followed Gino’s career for a long time. I followed his path to Bahrain Victorious. I celebrated his Giro d’Italia stage win 2021 in front of the TV as if I had won the stage. I chose Gino in every fantasy cycling game. I saw his ups and I also saw his downs. I love these riders. Full of potential. But not exploding right when entering the pro level. I read his interview with the 'Luzerner Zeitung' a couple of weeks ago where he talked about his own high expectations, his imperfections, his view on the world. After reading it, I looked forward to seeing Gino at the Giro d’Italia this year. To cheer for him. But it was not meant to be. He got ill a few days before the start. Gino wrote on Twitter: 'Most likely not going to announce my goals next year. Let’s see if covid still manages to ruin my hopes then. For now, I’ll rest and enjoy home.'
There will be no next year. No goals. No hopes. It breaks me. It breaks all of us.
Second, we are so close to what is happening. We see the other riders mourning for Gino. Crying. Hugging. Desperate. It is not hugging, in fact. They are clinging to each other. It is so hard to see these pictures. It is so important to see these pictures. They show what Gino meant to the cycling world. It shows, how much of a family the cycling world is despite all the pressure, the money, the risks. Gino’s death told all these riders something they already knew but try to forget: it can be over in a blink of an eye. One mistake. One unlucky moment. The end.
It is something every cyclist knows. In fact, Gino was not the guy I never met. He was one of us and we know that.
Third, I see the rest of the cycling community mourning. Many people I know are very sad. People who knew him. Who share their stories with Gino. A guy who is described as having a smile for everyone he talked to. Warm-hearted. A guy who did overcome the empty phrases so many athletes spread in interviews. Who spoke out about important topics in this world. Intelligent. Honest. Optimistic. So many people I know are shocked by his death. But they are all standing together. They let Gino’s light shine.
The way he is described. The way he used his popularity. He set an example.
Fourth, although I cannot imagine the amount of pain Gino’s family is going through right now, I get overwhelmed by their strength. We have seen the image of his mother Sandra at the finish of stage 6, hugging Evenepoel, hugging Küng. We heard about his father who wished that the Tour de Suisse continued, to honour Gino. I read the post by his sister Jana, in which she said goodbye to her brother. A post so full of love, joy, pride. It is wonderful. It is shattering.
I am a son. I am a brother. Unthinkable.
I believe I am deeply moved by all that. And by the fact that Gino was there when the last big tragedy happened in a World Tour race. When on August 5th, 2019, Bjorg Lambrecht crashed and died at the Tour of Pologne. Gino was part of the peloton this day. Gino won’t be part of the peloton ever again. No name on a startlist. No fighter for the victory. The cycling world was robbed a big talent. A big character.
The pre-Giro tweet was the last one Gino ever transmitted – around six weeks before his death. He closed it with best wishes to his replacement Yukiya Arashiro: 'Hope you enjoy the last minute three weeks Italy all-inclusive trip.' I liked that. I think it tells a bit about how Gino was.
Now his last trip has started. We are with you, Gino. All of us.