Thirteen months after Tour de Suisse crash, Mauricio Soler announces retirement from cycling
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thirteen months after Tour de Suisse crash, Mauricio Soler announces retirement from cycling

by Shane Stokes at 5:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
 
No return to racing for third Colombian to win Tour King of the Mountains

Mauricio SolerA year and a month after a near-lethal crash during the Tour de Suisse left him with a serious brain injury, former Tour de France King of the Mountains Mauricio Soler has announced he won’t return to the sport.

The 29 year old Colombian has lingering issues from his fall and has now accepted that he must retire permanently.

“On the recommendation of my neurologist and medical advisers in general, I won’t be able to return to the big efforts that are needed for my sport, cycling, and for that reason I won’t return to competition,” he told journalists from Señal Colombia.

Soler underlined his class in 2007 when the-then Barloworld rider won a stage of the Tour de France and took the award for the best climber. He was the third Colombian to win the title, following on from Lucho Herrera in 1985 and 1987, and Santiago Botero in 2000.

He had a couple of quiet years because of injury, but returned to top form last year in the Tour de Suisse.

The Movistar rider underlined his condition on the mountain stage to Crans Montana, attacking with Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek) and Damiano Cuneo (Lampre-ISD), then shedding them inside the final kilometre.

He reached the line twelve seconds ahead, winning the stage and taking the race lead, and while Cunego went on to take the jersey, he remained in contention starting stage six.

Determined to try to make up his 54 second deficit, he instead crashed heavily soon after the start of the stage. Hitting a spectator and then a barrier, he suffered a severe cranioencephalic trauma with cerebral edema [in layman’s terms, a severe head injury accompanied by excess fluid in the brain – ed.], as well as multiple fractures and hematomas.

Soler was placed in a medically induced coma, then gradually came out of it. However it became clear that things were complicated, with the rider being unable to speak in July of last year. He did show improvement after that point and in mid October he was finally released from the University Hospital of Navarra and allowed return to his Spanish home.

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.”

In December Soler was able to return to Colombia and continued his rehabilitation there at the Teletón Clinic in Bogota. He reiterated again that his future in cycling was uncertain.

Seven months on, he’s accepted that he will be unable to get back to professional racing. The news is a blow to Colombian cycling and his supporters, but the most important thing is that he survived a catastrophic crash and has a future ahead of him.

"Thanks to God, and to my family, starting with my wife and the Colombians, and you in Señal Colombia, my life is good,” he said. “I will keep doing all the recommendations of the physicians to have a good quality of life.”

Colombia’s hopes will now rest with the new generation of riders, with several promising talents such as Fabio Duarte and Esteban Chaves racing with the Colombia Coldeportes team.

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