Updated with Ineos’ statement on Sheffield.
In one moment, Gino Mäder and Magnus Sheffield were racing toward the finish of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse in La Punt. The next, both were headed to the hospital as a result of serious crashes.
Both crashed on the final descent off the Albulapass, in separate incidents. According to his Bahrain-Victorious team, Mäder “went off the road and fell into a ravine.” Although race personnel were quick to respond, Mäder “was found unresponsive, resuscitated at the scene and then transported by helicopter to Chur Hospital.” The short statement included no further information and his condition at this point is unknown.
Sheffield also crashed and, according to details from the race organization, “was responsive. He was transported to Samedan hospital with bruises and a concussion.” Late Thursday evening, Ineos released a statement on Twitter that confirmed Sheffield’s injuries as a concussion and “soft tissue damage” and said he would remain in the hospital overnight, and extended the team’s thoughts toward Mäder.
In comments afterward and on social media, World Champion Remco Evenepoel criticized the course design, specifically the descent to the finish in La Punt. “I hope that the final of today’s stage is food for thought for both cycling organisers as well as ourselves as riders,” he began.
As is common in Switzerland, the road down the Albulapass was not especially narrow and the pavement appeared to be in relatively good shape. It did feature numerous sharp hairpins as well as a number of high-speed curves; a camera moto following stage winner Juan Ayuso on the descent showed a speedometer reading of close to 100 km/h (60 mph) at one point. The finish line was also right at the bottom of the descent, without any flat terrain to re-catch an escaped rider.
Both riders had been racing strongly at Suisse. Sheffield, the 21-year-old in his second pro season on Ineos Grenadiers, was 9thoverall after stage 4 and was in an elite group with earlier race leader Mattias Skjelmose – who finished second on stage 5 – when he crashed. Mäder was having a strong ride in his home country tour in support of Pello Bilbao, currently fifth overall.
Escape Collective offers our best wishes to Mäder’s family and hopes both riders have a smooth and swift recovery.
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