The Tour de Suisse cycling race resumed its multistage competition on Saturday, one day after a rider died from the injuries that he sustained in a crash during a high-speed mountain descent.
The rider, Gino Mäder, was a member of the Bahrain-Victorious team, which announced on Saturday morning that it was withdrawing from the race. Two other teams, Tudor Pro and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, also said they had decided to leave the race.
The Bahrain-Victorious team’s riders, as well as the rest of the competitors, were informed of Mäder’s death on Friday morning — a day after he went off the course and tumbled down a steep ravine. The riders participated in a shortened memorial ride on Friday that replaced the day’s stage, which was called off.
But with the race, an important tuneup for the Tour de France next month, set to return for its final two competitive stages this weekend, Bahrain-Victorious confirmed on social media on Saturday morning that its team would not take part.
“Following the tragic loss of Gino Mäder,” the team said in a post on Twitter, “Team Bahrain Victorious has taken the decision to withdraw from Tour de Suisse.”
Two other teams quickly followed suit. Both cited the well-being of their riders in their decisions to drop out. “Under these difficult circumstances we feel it is the human way to respect the feelings of our riders and pay respect to Gino,” Tudor Pro’s statement said.
Race officials said late Friday that they had made the decision to continue the race in consultation with the family of Mäder, one of Switzerland’s best young riders. A four-stage women’s event began on Saturday as planned.
“After consultation with all the people involved, we as the management stand united behind this decision and are trying to hold the last two stages of the men’s race in an appropriate setting,” the tour’s race director, Olivier Senn, said in a statement.
“Today was the worst day of my life,” Senn added in the statement. “But tomorrow is a new day, and that’s what we have to take care of as an organization.”
The police are investigating the crash, and officials were reported to be interested in hearing from any witnesses who might have seen and filmed the episode.
Mäder crashed along with an American rider, Magnus Sheffield, on Thursday near the end of the fifth stage of the weeklong race, which ends with a final descent down the Albula Pass. The final section where the crash occurred, just after a sweeping downhill curve on an unprotected road with mountains to its left and a steep drop-off just beyond its right edge, was largely empty when the riders passed through it.
Photographs of the area of the crash showed what appeared to be two sets of tire tracks leading to the edge of a sharp drop above the site where Mäder and Sheffield fell.
Mäder and Sheffield were treated where they came to rest, near a set of drainage pipes down a long slope. Sheffield, who was reported to have sustained a concussion and cuts and bruises, appeared to be able to walk back up the hill with assistance. Race officials said Mäder was revived at the scene after being discovered “motionless in the water.” After initial treatment, he was evacuated from the scene in a helicopter.
At least one rider, the reigning world champion Remco Evenepoel, suggested that the course did not have to be so treacherous.
“I hope that the final of today’s stage is food for thought for both cycling organizers as well as ourselves as riders,” Evenepoel said on Twitter after the crash but before the severity of Mäder’s condition was known. “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.”