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Colombian climbing ace Juan Mauricio Soler (Caisse d’Epargne) will return to competition during this weekend’s Route de Sud in France and is expected to be able to start the Tour de France in July.
Soler crashed out of the second stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné with a serious left knee injury and put his participation in the 2010 Tour into doubt.
Soler is scheduled to race the Route du Sud, which starts Friday, and his Caisse d’Epargne team is hopeful the Colombian will be ready for the Tour.
“We’re confident he’ll be OK. Today, his mission was to train for five hours and then we’ll see what kind of reaction he had, but according to what the team doctor said, he’ll be at the Route du Sud and later at the Tour,” team manager Eusebio Unzue told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. “I’ve spoken with (Soler) and with the doctors, and it appears everything is going well. The pain has decreased and he’s recovering quickly and satisfactorily.”
Soler, now 27, barnstormed through the 2007 Tour, winning a mountain stage over the Col du Galibier and claiming the King of the Mountains climbers jersey.
He’s struggled since then, crashing out in the first stage of the 2008 Tour and did not start the 2009 Tour when his Barloworld team was not invited.
Soler switched to Caisse d’Epargne in 2010, with his best result so far this year coming with second in the mountaintop stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in mid-April.