Alex Zanardi remains in a ‘very serious’ condition in hospital after undergoing a three-hour neurological operation for a head injury sustained in a cycling crash.

The ex-F1 driver was involved in a collision with a truck while he was competing in the Obiectivo Tricolore competition riding his three-wheel handbike in the Tuscan town Pienza.

After being airlifted to hospital in Santa Maria alle Scotte, surgeons performed a ‘delicate neurosurgery operation’ to relieve a ‘severe cranial trauma’. He has now been moved to the intensive care unit with the hospital confirming his condition remains ‘very serious’.

UPDATE: 10:13 on June 20

A new statement from the hospital treating Zanardi gives more detail as to the surgery he underwent, but says his 'neurological picture remains serious'

"Regarding the clinical conditions of the athlete Alex Zanardi, hospitalized from 18 on 19 June in very serious conditions at the Santa Maria alle Scotte polyclinic following a road accident occurred in the province of Siena, the Health Directorate of the Aou Senese informs that the patient, subjected to a delicate neurosurgical intervention on the evening of 19 June, and subsequently transferred to intensive care, he has stable hemodynamic and metabolic parameters. It is intubated and supported by artificial ventilation while the neurological picture remains serious."

 

 

Reports from the scene show Zanardi’s handbike lying on its side missing two of its three wheels, with police suggesting Zanardi misjudged a bend coming off a downhill stretch and rain wide into the path of a large truck.

“It happened on a slightly downhill straightaway just before a slight curve in the road,” national team coach Mario Valentini, who was following the race, told La Repubblica Florence. “Alex veered slightly into the oncoming lane just when a truck came. (The truck) tried to swerve but couldn’t avoid the crash.”

Valentini says Zanardi was conscious and breathing in the aftermath of the accident before he was taken to hospital.

The news has come as a shock for the world of motorsport, nearly two decades after the two-time CART champion and ex-F1 racer lost both of his legs in a horrific accident while racing in Germany.

Since then Zanardi has become one of sport’s true triumphs against adversity, reviving his motorsport career with successful turns in touring cars and sportscars, before turning his attention to endurance cycling competition, where he has achieved four Paralympic gold medals.

The concern from across motorsport could be felt on social media with current and former drivers expressing their shock at the situation.


“The were joined by Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte who tweeted: “You’ve never given up and with your extraordinary strength within you’ve overcome a thousand troubles. Forza Alex Zanardi. Don’t give up. All of Italy is with you.”

 

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