2011 Tour de Suisse, stage 3: Mauricio Soler
Mauricio Soler (and friend) on stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de Suisse. Photo: Graham Watson (file)

Mauricio Soler, the Colombian climber who suffered traumatic head injuries in a crash during this summer’s Tour de Suisse, returned home this week after a long recovery that leaves his cycling future in serious doubt.

Soler crashed hard on June 16 just as it appeared he was back in top form following a few frustrating seasons for the former king of the mountains winner. He spent months in hospitals recovering from the near-fatal crash and head injury, including several days in a medically induced coma.

“My future as a cyclist is uncertain,” Soler said upon his return to Colombia yesterday. “I have to take it slow, because the first thing is to fully regain my health. We will see about the future.”

Soler suffered serious head injuries during his fall at the Swiss tour and spent six months in a Spanish hospital in Pamplona, near the home base of his Movistar team. He will continue his recuperation in Bogotá and return to Spain in May for further evaluation of his progress.

Soler met with Colombian journalists upon his return home, speaking in a soft voice and looking very different than the lean and athletic climber who won a stage and the KoM jersey in the 2007 Tour de France.

“I am very happy to return home. I was born again in Spain and I am very thankful to all the people who helped me along the way to fulfill this dream of coming back,” he said.

“It still tires me out when I speak. My wife, Patricia, has always been by my side and never left me. Now I hope to get better day by day.”