By James Crook

Italian cyclists Vittorio Podesta, Luca Mazzone and Alex Zanardi celebrate their hat-trick of titles at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships in Baie-ComeauAugust 29 - Paralympic champion and former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi has clinched his first International Cycling Union (UCI) handcycling world title at the Para-Cycling World Championships in Baie-Comeau.

The 46-year-old Italian went off last in the H4 classification event in Quebec due to his status as Paralympic champion, and bettered South African Ernst Van Dyk's best time of 27min 29.47sec by 14 seconds to add the world title to his collection.

"Well that's it, World Champion!" he tweeted to his followers after the victory.

"At 47 I know it won't last but now I'm happy!"

Zanardi tweeted this picture of his winning jersey adorned with his gold medal to followersZanardi tweeted this picture of his winning jersey adorned with his gold medal to followers

Team-mate Vittorio Podesta kept the gold coming for Italy in the H3 class, surviving a nervous wait for the last two athletes to compete, Swiss veteran Heinz Frei and World Cup winner Walter Ablinger of Austria, who eventually took silver and bronze respectively.

World Cup winner Luca Mazzone was on hand to secure the hat-trick of handcycling golds for Italians in the H1 class, overcoming Ireland's Paralympic champion Mark Rohan, who had to settle for silver.

The only handcycling gold that will not be heading to Italy will be the one taken by Poland's double Paralympic champion Rafal Wilk, who came out victorious in the H3 classification.

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