By Shane Stokes
Two decades after Luis Herrara took the first Colombian King of the Mountains title during the 1985 Tour de France, compatriot Mauricio Soler today showed dazzling climbing form to land a stage win in what is his debut showing at the race.
The 24 year-old caught and then attacked the day's break with approximately 47 kilometres to go to the finish in Briançon. Discovery Channel rider Yaroslav Popovych hung on for a little longer but then he was forced to let go of the flying Barloworld rider, who crested the summit 2'02" ahead of the Ukrainian and a further two seconds ahead of Popo's team-mate Alberto Contador. The two joined forces to try to bring him back but were unable to do so before being caught themselves by the group of main race favourites such as yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), eventual second-place getter Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) plus several other big guns.
Surprisingly for a Colombian, Soler time trialled strongly to the base of the final climb in Briançon, then powered up the slopes to take the biggest win of his career.
"My big goal was to ride in the Tour de France and to win a stage," the delighted young rider told the media after the presentation. "It is a surprise to have already done so at this early point . My team showed confidence in me and allowed me to take part in the race. It is a huge satisfaction for me and I am very happy."
You can find out more about Soler here.