The Tudor Pro Cycling and Intermarche teams as well as several cyclists from other formations withdrew from the Tour de Suisse on Saturday following the death of Swiss cyclist Gino Maeder.
Maeder, who raced for the Bahrain Victorious team, fell into a ravine during Thursday’s fifth stage downhill final and succumbed to his injuries on Friday at the age of 26.
His team withdrew on Friday and were joined by Swiss team Tudor and Belgian rivals Intermarche ahead of Saturday’s seventh stage.
A total of 36 riders did not take part in the stage – a 184 kilometer journey from Tubach to Weinfelden – and those who did observed a minute’s silence as a dove was released as a sign. additional tribute.
The withdrawals came as organizers said they had decided to go ahead with the rest of the race after consulting with teams and the rider’s family.
Tudor, however, tweeted that he couldn’t continue.
“After careful consideration and discussion with riders and staff, the team has decided not to continue racing the Tour de Suisse this year,” Tudor tweeted.
“In these difficult circumstances, we believe it is the humane way to respect the feelings of our riders and to pay tribute to Gino,” he added.
Intermarché followed suit.
“After consultation with our riders and staff, we have decided to withdraw from the Tour de Suisse,” Intermarche said on social media.
“Our priority is to respect the mental health of our riders.”
Following the announcement of his death, cyclists took part in a 20 km race in his honor replacing the sixth stage.
The organizers, however, decided not to cancel the tour completely.
“After an emotional day and a very touching race in memory of Gino Maeder, it has been decided in consultation with Gino Maeder’s family that the Tour de Suisse will continue,” race director Olivier Senn said on Friday.
– ‘Really difficult’ –
Organizers said on Saturday the stage would run as normal although the general classification was frozen with 25km to go.
“We respect the decision of each team and individual riders which aligns with what we had planned,” the organizers told AFP.
“There will be a race on the route originally planned but the times for the general classification will be taken at 25 km from the finish (before the final climb of the stage).
Road racing world champion Remco Evenepoel had made it clear that those racing on Saturday planned more on going with the flow than competing for victory.
“The remaining race favorites have agreed to refrain from attacking today,” he said.
Evenepoel summed up the riders’ attitude as still racing.
“Today it will be really difficult for us in the peloton to concentrate, to start the stage,” he said.
“However, we respect the decision of his family and his team to return to racing.
“But it will be with a different mentality, with other feelings.”
Maeder’s death prompted many tributes led by two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar, who posted on Instagram: “Rest in peace (heart icon) I will miss you.”
Pogacar’s Slovenian compatriot and recently crowned Giro d’Italia winner Primoz Roglic tweeted: “Speechless”.
The eighth and final stage on Sunday is a 26km time trial between St. Gallen and Abtwil.