TRIESENBERG-MALBUN, Liechtenstein, (AFP) – Mauricio Soler was put into an artificial coma Thursday as doctors prepared to operate following a crash that left the Colombian with a fractured skull. Soler, who rides for Movistar, crashed early in the sixth stage of the Tour of Switzerland 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, prompting doctors to put him into an artificial coma in order to operate.
Soler’s lungs also had to be drained and he needed artificial help to aid breathing.
Race doctors who have been in communication with the hospital said they found Soler unconscious at the scene of the crash, where he collided with a spectator who it was later revealed suffered only “superficial injuries.”
After the stage, race doctor Thorsten Hammer said: “Before the crash the peloton was going fast but there were no obstacles and the road wasn’t narrow at the point, so we don’t know the exact reasons (of the crash).
“We found Soler on the ground unconscious so he was immediately transported to hospital. He has head injuries, a broken ankle and he has had trouble breathing so doctors have had to drain his lungs.”
Fellow doctor Robert Kretsch said: “He has serious injuries, but we can’t say now whether his life is in danger.”
The professional peloton is still suffering the fallout of the death of Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt, the Leopard-Trek team rider who died from injuries sustained in a crash at the Giro d’Italia last month.
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, at 54 seconds behind Italian Damiano Cunego.
The race finishes on Sunday with a time trial.