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Soler focused on Grand Tour future

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) (Image credit: AFP)

This year's Tour de France star climber Mauricio Soler has met with Team Barloworld manager Claudio Corti to study the 2008 Giro d'Italia route, where the Colombian believes he can do well. The Tour polka dot jersey winner enjoyed a sensational breakout year in 2007, with his efforts in the French Grand Tour leading to compliments from the Colombian president and resulted in the rider being awarded the Colombian Athlete of the Year title.

While the 2008 Tour has already been signaled as the climber's main target for Soler next season, the importance of a Giro start to the British registered, Italian based, South African squad means Soler is likely to tackle both the French and Italian Grand Tours next season.

"I'd obviously have to train well but I think I can do well in the Giro because there are some really tough mountain stages that suit me," Soler said. "There are lots of riders that did well in the past in both these important stage-races in the same year. 2008 is going to be a very important and difficult season, but I'm really motivated and can't wait to start racing again."

The 24 year-old climbed to victory on the Tour's 159.5 kilometre Stage 9 before going on to claim the overall mountains jersey in this year's race. The youngster also finished runner up in the Tour's young rider classification, won by overall race winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel). In addition to his Grand Tour success Soler claimed victory on Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos before going on to win the event's classification during his first year at Team Barloworld.

"Mauricio is really enthusiastic about next season and keen to try something new," Corti said. "The Giro is an important objective for us and we hope to receive an official invitation from the organisers because we're convinced we can do well before we head back to the Tour de France for further success."

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