Important progression for Mauricio Soler as he returns home to Colombia
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Important progression for Mauricio Soler as he returns home to Colombia

by Shane Stokes at 8:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Rider is well enough to make trans-Atlantic flight

Mauricio SolerFormer Tour de France King of the Mountains Mauricio Soler takes another step in his recovery on Tuesday when he arrives back to Colombia for the first time since before a near-fatal crash in June.

The Movistar rider is now well enough to complete the long flight from Spain and will travel with his wife Patricia. He will fly into the El Dorado International airport at 4.40 pm, according to the Colombian federation. The 28 year old will then continue his recovery in the Teletón Clinic.

Soler had his best season to date in 2007 when he won a stage of the Tour de France and took the award for the best climber. Since then he has been affected by injury, but bounced back earlier this year in the Tour de Suisse.

He attacked with Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Damiano Cuneo (Lampre-ISD) on the mountain stage to Crans Montana, dropped the other two inside the final kilometre and winning the stage by twelve seconds. He briefly held the race lead, and started the sixth stage second overall, 54 seconds behind Cunego.

It was a superb return to form and appeared to set him up as the Movistar team leader in the Tour de France.

However he crashed soon after the start of that stage, clipping a spectator and then colliding with a barrier. The accident caused him to suffer a severe cranioencephalic trauma with cerebral edema [in layman’s terms, a severe head injury accompanied by excess fluid in the brain – ed.]. He also had multiple fractures and hematomas, and was placed in a medically induced coma.

In July it emerged that he was suffering from what was termed ‘serious cognitive defects,’ with the rider being able to move at that point, but not being capable of speech. Things progressed since then and in mid October he was finally released from the University Hospital of Navarra and allowed return to his Spanish home.

“I feel improvement every single day,” said Soler at the time, “though it's true that some days I seem like I’m taking a step back, and that always discourages you. For example, I'm concerned I get tired too soon when walking."

He said then that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to return to the peloton at some future point. “We have to be patient, only time will tell about that, he said. It would be fantastic to return riding, but now I'm most interested on my own recovery.”

Earlier this month the El Espectador newspaper confirmed that it had named Soler as one of its athletes of the year. The prize was given to him in the category of overcoming adversity, hailing his fighting spirit. The rider has reportedly undergone more than twenty surgeries since his fall, and continues to battle onwards.

Being well enough to return to Colombia is the next step in that journey, and a very encouraging one.


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