Soler arrives back home in Colombia, states future in cycling is uncertain
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Soler arrives back home in Colombia, states future in cycling is uncertain

by Shane Stokes at 6:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Movistar rider making strong return to health

Mauricio SolerFormer Tour de France King of the Mountains Mauricio Soler had a warm reception when he arrived back to Colombia yesterday, six months after nearly losing his life in a crash during the Tour de Suisse. The Movistar rider flew into El Dorado airport in Bogota and, looking surprised, was greeted by supporters, a brass band plus a number of reporters. His parents were also there to welcome their son back.

Soler looked pale due to the many months spent indoors, but walked well and appears to have regained at least some of his physical strength. His face showed two visual reminders of the crash; a scar above his right eye, and some freezing of his mouth on the left side. Despite the latter, he spoke clearly, telling the reporters present that he wasn’t sure if he would return to the sport or not.

“I don’t know. My future in cycling is uncertain now,” he explained. “I just want to recover and the rest will follow.”

The 28 year old will work on that recovery in the Teletón Clinic in Bogota.

Soler’s battle started in the Tour de Suisse. He had returned to strong form after several seasons affected by injury, beating Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) on the mountain stage to Crans Montana. He briefly led the race and was sitting second overall behind Cunego when he crashed heavily on the sixth stage.

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.

He’s been steadily improving since then, with his movement and speech yesterday showing how far he had progressed. In July it was said that he was suffering from ‘serious cognitive defects’ and was unable to talk, but he showed little sign of that yesterday.

“For me it's great to be in my country,” he told reporters, “although I was reborn in Spain. I’ve really looked forward to this moment. Yesterday I had to say goodbye to the people who I met in Spain and who have, in the midst of adversity, been next to me trying to help me achieve my dream of being here [back in Colombia].”

Whether or not he resumes racing, he’s in far better shape than he was even four months ago. He thanked the Colombians who had prayed for his recovery, telling reporters that God had heard them, and paid tribute to his spouse.

“My wife Patricia has always been with me, even when I was in the hospital she never left me,” he said, voicing his appreciation. “She slept on a sofa beside the bed…I think she had the toughest part.”


Video: Revista Mundo Ciclistico


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