Former Formula 1 Driver Alex Zanardi Injured in Bike Crash

Former Formula 1 driver and twice Champ Car champion Alex Zanardi was in intensive care on Friday after surgery for severe head injuries suffered in a road accident while racing his handbike in Italy.

Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital said in a statement that the 53-year-old Italian, who lost both legs and nearly his life in a 2001 Champ Car crash in Germany, was in a “very serious” condition.

It said the “neurosurgical and maxillo-facial intervention” began shortly after 7pm local time and ended shortly before 10pm.

“The patient was then transferred to the intensive care unit with a reserved prognosis.”

The Italian news agency ANSA reported sources saying the accident involved a truck on a state highway near the town of Pienza to the south-east of Siena.

The hospital said the four-times Paralympic road cycling gold medallist was flown to Siena by air ambulance and arrived at around 6pm local time.

Sky in Italy reported that Zanardi had been competing in the ‘Obiettivo Tricolore’ road race for Italian paralympic athletes.

According to the manager of the national paralympic cycling team, Zanardi was conscious when help arrived

Zanardi is an inspirational figure in the worlds of motorsport and paralympic endeavour, a hugely popular and positive competitor who returned from life-changing injuries with a smile.

He had both legs amputated above the knee, with his heart stopping seven times as he lost all but a litre of the blood in his body, after the horrific crash at the Lausitzring in Germany on September 15, 2001.

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