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The world para-cycling elite are meeting in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, for the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships – and Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) lives up to his role as a favourite. On Thursday, the #bmw Brand Ambassador won the time trial in the MH5 category (men’s hand-cycle), defending his world title in the discipline. Overall, it is the ninth world title that Zanardi has won in his para-cycling career to date.
The time trial was the first of three competitions that Zanardi is taking part in at the Pietermaritzburg world championships. The para-athletes completed three laps on a 7.75 kilometre long circuit, a total distance of 23.3 kilometres. Zanardi continued where he had finished at the previous world championships held in Switzerland two years ago - with winning ways. He completed the distance in 37:47.96 minutes and was 2.6 seconds faster than his rival and friend, second-placed Tim de Vries (NED). In doing so, Zanardi secured his fourth consecutive world title in the discipline.
“I am very proud of this result and I want to thank everybody in my team, including my wife Daniela, who contributed to it,” said Zanardi. “It was a very long race, pretty technical, and the interpretation of the unfolding race was the key to finishing with a smile on my face. On the first lap I was fourth, then second on lap two, and on lap three I was ahead. I guess I not only had what it took to win the gold medal but I also used it in the best possible way.”
“When you win by only two seconds after over 37 minutes of #competition you have to admit that you were not stronger than the guy who finished second but that you were just a little luckier,” Zanardi continued. “But I was certainly as strong as my rivals and, as I am approaching the age of 51, I think it is quite remarkable, given that some of these guys are in their mid-twenties. So I am proud of it and I take it.”
On Saturday (2nd September) Zanardi will compete in the 60.7 kilometre individual road race and on Sunday (3rd September) the team-relay is scheduled for him and the Italian national team. Zanardi is also the reigning world champion in both of these disciplines.
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