Cycling: Next 48 hours 'crucial' for Soler after horror crash

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The Independent Online

Belguim's thomas De Gendt won the final mountain stage of the Tour de Switzerland yesterday while Italy's Damiano Cunego kept the overall lead.

De Gendt attacked from a group of 17 breakaways 23 kilometres from the finish in Serfaus, Austria, to claim his third win. Luxembourg's Andy Schleck was second and Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas third. The race ends tomorrow with a 32.5km individual time trial in Schaffhouse.

Meanwhile, the Colombian cyclist Juan Mauricio Soler remains in intensive care after an incident on Thursday in which he hit a raised curb, fell on to a spectator then collided with a barrier, suffering brain injuries and multiple fractures.

Soler's team Movistar said the rider remained in intensive care in a "stable though serious" condition, but that swelling on the brain had reduced. Australian rider Baden Cooke said the crash happened as the peloton was nearing a traffic island and the road narrowed.

"All of a sudden there was a footpath with a 5cm edge dropping down to the road level," Cooke said. "[Soler] had no time to brake at all."

The 28-year-old then hit a fence close to the road. "The fence did not move at all so Soler took the full impact," Cooke said.

A Tour of Switzerland spokesman said Soler remains in an induced coma at a hospital in the eastern city of St Gallen. Movistar team doctor Alfredo Zuniga said hospital staff was focusing on reducing swelling on his brain, and that the next couple of days will be "crucial."

"Mauricio is still at the ICU and his progress is being favorable," Zuniga said. "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."

Police and prosecutors said it was not clear whether criminal proceedings would be launched. The crash comes weeks after Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt was killed on 9 May in a crash in the Giro d'Italia.