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Juan Mauricio Soler in stable condition

TRIESENBERG-MALBUN, Liechtenstein (AFP) – Colombian rider Juan Mauricio Soler was reported to be in a stable condition after suffering head injuries in a crash on the Tour of Switzerland, an official for his Movistar team told AFP Friday.

Soler was put into an artificial coma Thursday following a crash which left the Colombian with a fractured skull.

“The news is good today,” Movistar team doctor Alfredo Zuniga said in a statement. “Mauricio is still in intensive care and progress is favourable. The brain swelling, which is the most worrying, has slightly improved. For this reason we remain optimistic. We still have to be careful because you can’t foresee
much in this type of situation.

“The 48-72 hours after the accident are critical but the very early hours which are even more critical are behind us. He has multiple injuries and fractures, but the doctors are focused on the edema (brain swelling) problem.

Soler crashed early in the sixth stage and was left unconscious, with blood pouring from his head and suffering from a broken ankle.

He was immediately airlifted to hospital where doctors confirmed he had a fractured skull and had blood on the brain. Soler’s lungs also had to be drained and he needed artificial help to aid breathing.

The official added that the accident is believed to be a result of the rider’s front wheel hitting the pavement at speed.

“At the time the peloton was riding really fast,” he said. “It’s a shame for him because he was just coming back into form and he got his first victory in four years on Sunday.”

Soler had been hoping to use the race to help him win a place on Movistar’s team for the Tour de France, on which he won a stage and the ‘King of the Mountains’ polka dot jersey in 2007.

At the start of Thursday’s stage Soler had been second in the overall standings.

The accident is a further blow for the Movistar team already reeling from the death of Spanish cyclist Xavier Tondo who was killed in a freak accident last month when he was crushed between his car and a garage door at a ski resort in southern Spain.

“It’s a difficult period for the team but we just have to get through it. That’s cycling,” the team official added.

Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt, the Leopard team rider, also died from injuries sustained in a crash at the Giro d’Italia last month.

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