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Alex Zanardi: Ex-Formula 1 driver in ‘critical’ condition after handbike crash

Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi is in a “critical condition” after requiring surgery on a head injury sustained in an accident during a handbike relay in his native Italy.

The 53-year-old was involved in a crash with a lorry in Pienza on Friday.

Zanardi was taken by helicopter to hospital in Siena, where he is on a ventilator in intensive care and “the neurological picture remains serious”.

His “neurosurgical and maxillo-facial” operation lasted almost three hours.

Zanardi had both legs amputated after crashing in the American Memorial 500 Cart race at Lausitz, Germany, in 2001.

He has since become a four-time Paralympic handcycling gold medallist.

“You have never given up and with your extraordinary fortitude you have overcome a thousand difficulties,” said Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Twitter.

“Come on Alex Zanardi, don’t give up. All of Italy is fighting with you.”

Former Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti tweeted: “I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I’m holding my breath. I am his fan. I am his friend.

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“Please do what I’m doing and pray, pray for for this wonderful man.”

Zanardi was taking part in an event called the Obiettivo Tricolore, a journey that sees the participants riding across Italy on handbikes, cycles or wheelchairs.

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