Alex Zanardi wins his first UCI world title

Italy’s Alex Zanardi, Vittorio Podesta and Luca Mazzone all won gold to open the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships. 30 Aug 2013
Alex Zanardi

At the London 2012 Paralympics, Italy's Alex Zanardi won gold in the men's H4 road race and time trial events, and silver in the mixed H1-4 team relay.

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Former Formula 1 pilot Alex Zanardi was the first to set the tone for the Italians in the afternoon session.

The Italian handcyclists took Baie-Comeau, Canada by storm on the opening day of the 2013 UCI Para-Cycling World Championships on Thursday (29 August), claiming three out of the four gold medals up for grabs in the men’s H classes.

In total, 12 gold medals were distributed after the time trials through the Quebec city.

Former Formula 1 pilot Alex Zanardi was the first to set the tone for the Italians in the afternoon session.

As Paralympic champion, he was the last in the H4 class to set off on the 17.3km course. South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk had clocked the time to beat of 27:29.47, but the Italian champion kept his cool and covered the two-lap course over 14 seconds faster to take the world title.

Zanardi’s fellow Italian team mate Vittorio Podesta, second in the 2013 World Cup, pulled out all the stops to add another gold medal to the Italian collection by winning the H3 class.

After setting the time of 14:24.71, the Italian had to wait for the last two athletes, Swiss veteran Heinz Frei and Austria’s World Cup winner Walter Ablinger.

After the first lap, Frei was ahead of Podesta’s time but the 55-year-old lost ground in the second lap and finally took silver in front of Ablinger.

World Cup winner in the H1 class, Luca Mazzone, then assured the Italian hat trick with his win over Ireland’s Paralympic champion Mark Rohan.

Only Poland’s Rafal Wilk managed to prevent the Italians from making a clean sweep of the men’s H classes.

The Paralympic champion finished the time trial course with a comfortable lead over Germany’s Vico Merklein and Australian Nigel Barley.

Earlier in the day, the women’s handcyling time trials saw the Americans win two out of the four handcycling titles with Paralympic champion and 2013 UCI World Cup winner Monica Bascio (H3) and Paralympic silver medallist Muffy Davis (WH2).

The other two women’s handcycling titles went to Germany’s Andrea Eskau (H4) and South African Justine Asher (H1), both of whom had claimed the 2013 World Cup titles the week prior.

In the tricycle (T) classes, Germany’s Hans-Peter Durst (T2) was back in stunning form after the illness that prevented him from competing in the final round of the World Cup in Matane.

Durst covered the 8.6km time trial lap in 14:53.58, over 10 seconds faster than Great Britain’s David Stone, who had claimed the World Cup title in Matane last week.

The remaining T class titles went to Spain’s Aitor Oroza Flores (T1), Australia’s Carol Cooke (T2) and Shelley Gautier (T1), who gave host country Canada its first gold medal of the championships.

The time trials continue on Friday with the C classes.