Colombian rider Soler suffers severe brain injuries in Tour of Switzerland accident

ST. GALLEN (Switzerland): Colombian rider Juan Mauricio Soler was hospitalised in St. Gallen with severe brain injuries after a heavy crash during the Tour of Switzerland on Thursday.

Soler’s Movistar team issued a statement to say the 28-year-old had been diagnosed with bleeding on the brain, as well as “multiple fractures and hematomas.”

Soler was unconscious and bleeding from the left ear when doctors reached him, race medic Roland Kretsch said.

He added Soler was airlifted to a hospital, where he was in a stable condition in intensive care.

His colleague, Thorsten Hammer, said the main concern was Soler’s head injuries. “We can’t say at this time in which direction it will go,” the medic said.

Movistar’s press team said that Soler may have hit a curb, flown over his handlebars and hit either a pole or fence, and may have “impacted against a spectator.”

Tour organisers were unclear about how the crash happened but the Tour website said spectators may have been injured in Soler’s accident about 11km into the sixth stage.

Sporting director Beat Zberg said the road hadn’t narrowed and there were no obstacles at the crash site.

Until the crash, Soler was second overall and less than a minute behind leader Damiano Cunego of Italy.

“I’m very sorry for Mauricio,” Cunego said after the stage.

Soler won the second stage on Sunday and dedicated the victory to former Movistar team–mate Xavier Tondo, who died in a freak accident last month.

Tondo was crushed between his car and a garage door while trying to take the car out of the garage in a residential complex outside Granada, Spain.

British rider Mark Cavendish, who is competing in the Tour of Switzerland for HTC-Highroad, tweeted: “Not nice to see Mauricio Soler crash today. Very nasty. I really hope he is ok, and wish him a speedy recovery.”

Safety in cycling has been under the microscope since Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt was killed on May 9 in a crash during the Giro d’Italia. – AP

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