Juan Soler 'took full impact' in crash
GENEVA -- Colombian cyclist Juan Mauricio Soler hit a curb near a traffic circle, tumbled onto a spectator and smashed into a fence during the crash that left him with brain injuries and multiple fractures, a fellow rider said Friday.
Tour of Switzerland spokesman Christoph Arnold said Soler remains in an induced coma at a hospital in the eastern city of St. Gallen. Soler's team, Movistar, said the rider remained in intensive care in "stable though serious" condition but that swelling on the brain had reduced.
"All of a sudden there was a footpath with a (two-inch) edge dropping down to the road level," Australian rider Baden Cooke told The Associated Press in an email. "(Soler) had no time to brake at all."
The 28-year-old Soler hit a fence about two feet away from the road.
"The fence did not move at all so Soler took the full impact," Cooke said.
On Friday, Thomas De Gent of Belgium won the seventh and longest stage, while Damiano Cunego of Italy retained the overall lead despite coming in 17th. De Gent finished the 139-mile ride from Vaduz in Liechtenstein to Serfaus, Austria, in 5 hours, 38 minutes, 42 seconds.
Luxembourg's Andy Schleck came second, 35 seconds back, and Josi Joaquin Rojas was third.
Movistar team doctor Alfredo Zuniga said hospital staff was focusing on reducing the swelling on his brain and the next couple of days will be "crucial."
"Mauricio is still at the ICU and his progress is being favorable," Zuniga said in a team statement. "The cerebral edema, which is the most worrying thing, has gone through a slight improvement and that's why we have to stay optimistic, even though we have to keep reservations because recovery in such processes is unpredictable."
Arnold said organizers were still unclear about how the crash happened. It took place in the village of Gloten, seven miles into the sixth stage.
Police and prosecutors are investigating the accident but said it wasn't clear whether criminal proceedings would be launched. The crash occurred weeks after Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt was killed May 9 in a crash during the Giro d'Italia.
Weylandt's death was the first at the Giro in 25 years and the first in one of the sport's showcase tours in 16 years.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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