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Soler emerges as Tour's bright spot

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) (Image credit:

By Brecht Decaluwé in Ley

One of the highlights of this year's Tour de France is the emergence of 24 year-old Juan Mauricio Soler. His second place in Milano-Torino behind future Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca already showed a touch of class, but in the Tour de France, Soler has shown he's nothing less than an emerging star by winning not only the mountainous stage 9 to Briançon, but also by earning the polka dot jersey for best climber in the Tour de France.

Soler was already wearing the jersey going into Wednesday's stage 16, but that was only because true KOM leader Michael Rasmussen could only wear one jersey at a time.

In the final mountains stage, Soler launched himself in a long breakaway supported by Carlos Sastre (CSC) who tried to go for the stage win on the Aubisque. During the breakaway, Soler managed to gather enough points to officially capture the polka dot jersey.

"I'm very happy with the jersey," Soler said. "This was a very difficult day for me, but it turned out to be fantastic. I could grab the jersey by taking the points during the first climbs. In the final climb towards the finish, I didn't react to the accelerations. I tried to gather my strength to capture the best possible result at the line."

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