Alessandro Zanardi completed a hat-trick of World Championship gold medals with success in the men’s H5 road race ©Getty Images

Italy once again proved to be the dominant nation in hand cycling events as the final day of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Para-cycling Road World Championships took place in Nottwil, Switzerland.

Alessandro Zanardi had already defended his H5 time trial and mixed relay crowns but had his eye on improving from his second place finish at last year’s World Championships, where he was beaten in a sprint finish by South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk.

While Van Dyk was unable to repeat his victory this year, the 62 kilometre race still went down to the wire with Zanardi and 24-year-old Dutchman Jetze Plat battling for gold in another thrilling conclusion to the classification’s road race.

Experience was to prevail on this occasion as Zanardi, 48, crossed home in 1 hour 29min 21sec to take the victory and replicate his gold medal hat-trick from the 2013 Championships, with Plat ending on the same time to take the silver medal.

Zanardi’s compatriot Lucas Mazzone was another man to earn a third gold medal in Nottwil as he broke away to win the men’s H2 race after finishing in 1:30:05.

The United States’ William Groulx and Anders Backman earned silver and bronze respectively after they finished 1:11 and 4:51 behind the winner.

"I tried to attack and make the biggest gap possible, but you are never at any point sure that you are going to win in a World Championships," Mazzone said afterwards.

"I have been training my strength and resistance really hard so I attacked on an uphill section."

The hand cycling road races brought the World Championships to a close
The hand cycling road races brought the World Championships to a close ©Twitter/UCI Para-cycling

Vittorio Podesta secured Italy’s third gold on the final day of action by winning the men’s H3 road race in 1:33:30, while Swiss duo Heinz Frei and Lukas Weber claimed podium finishes in after ending 3:17 and 4:29 adrift.

Poland's Rafal Wilk claimed gold in the H4 event after crossing the line in 1:32:40, while the men’s H1 event, which took place over the shorter distance of 35km, was won by South Africa’s Nicolas Pieter Du Preez after he posted a time of 1:35:57.

There was further success for South Africa in the women’s H2 event as Justine Asher lapped the field to comfortably take victory in 1:21:35, while Australia’s Emilie Miller crossed the line in 1:36:06 to secure gold in the H1 classification.

Germany joined Italy and South Africa in claiming multiple successes in the hand cycling road races after Christiane Reppe and Andrea Eskau were victorious in the women’s H4 and H5 events respectively.

Reppe enjoyed a winning margin of 3:18 over her compatriot Silke Pan in the H4 race after a superb performance saw her complete the 49km course in 1:28:58, while Switzerland’s Sandra Graf completed the podium after finishing 7:21 behind Reppe.

It was a closer affair in the H5 event, but Eskau was able to hold off the challenge of The Netherlands’ Laura De Vaan and the US's Oksana Masters in a sprint finish to take gold in 1:22:26.

While Germany earned double gold there was no doubt about the most dominant nation in hand cycling, as Italy’s superiority was confirmed by Francesca Porcellato, after she won the women’s H3 event in 1:13:16.

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