Team Barloworld’s Colombian climber Mauricio Soler won stage nine of the Tour de France today, taking his fourth and most important victory of his short professional career.
“It was an incredible win, something I never expected to achieve. But with some great team work it all worked out fine,” Soler, 24, told reporters.
The Barloworld rider was awarded by the new President of French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, who followed the race on the Tour de France director’s vehicle.
With 64 km to go, Soler launched with a solo attack from the already shrunken peloton.
In 17 kilometers, he managed to rejoin an earlier breakaway from two and a half minutes behind, and then launched another impressive acceleration that no one else could match.
The 24-year-old Colombian climber reached the top of the Galibier with a 2.20 gap on Contador (Discovery Channel) and 3.20 on yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne).
Soler, with all the team leaders chasing hard from behind, bombed down the descent aboard his Cannondale System Six, and then pushed up the final rise to the finish, where he could finally raise his arms for the most important win in his career.
With this win, Soler gained positions in the overall standing (he is now in 17th position), in the climbers’ classification (2nd) and in the white jersey contest (3rd).
Michael Rasmussen kept the yellow jersey with 2.35 over Alejandro Valverde.
As Rasmussen is also the climber classification’s leader, tomorrow it will be Soler to don the polka-dot jersey, being second in this special standing.
The win marks Cannondale’s second stage win in Briancon, as Team Liquigas’ Giro d’Italia-winning Danilo Di Luca took stage 12 of that race as well!