Mauricio Soler has been awarded the 'Colombian Athlete of the Year' prize by the Colombian El Espectador newspaper after
a vote by its readers on the internet.
"I'm very grateful to El Espectador for this award and feel honoured. It's been a great year for me and this prize makes
it even better", Soler said during a live television broadcast of the ceremony in the presence of Barloworld team manager
Claudio Corti and Soler's parents.
During his trip to Colombia, Team Barloworld manager Claudio Corti sat down with Soler to study the route of the recently
presented 2008 Giro d'Italia. Mauricio carefully studied the stage profiles knowing that the Giro can be an important objective
for the team next year.
After Soler's amazing success in this year's Tour de France, where he won a mountain stage
and won the climber's polka-dot jersey competition, the Colombian climber wants to return to France in 2008 and show his immense
potential. However the Giro d'Italia is also a fascinating challenge.
"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
Soler also said he hopes to race at home in Colombia during 2008, perhaps at the Vuelta a Colombia.
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."
Team Barloworld's first appointment of the New Year will be the traditional pre-season training camp in Italy at the
Hotel Marinetta in Marina di Bibbona on the Tuscan coast. From Thursday January 17 to Saturday 26 , the riders and staff will
get together to prepare for what will hopefully be another successful season of racing.
Team manager Claudio Corti
and directeur sportifs Alberto Volpi and Valerio Tebaldi have planned a busy nine days for the riders, with training rides,
meetings with new riders (10 out of a total of 19 in the team) and the programming of the team's race calendars and season
The first race of the season is expected to be in South Africa, where sponsor Barloworld has its company
headquarters, at the Worlds View Challenge between February 2-7. The team will also ride the GP degli Etruschi in Tuscany
on February 7.