Vuelta a Espana: Chris Horner seals historic victory as Michael Matthews wins stage 21
Last Updated: 15/09/13 9:53pm
Chris Horner edged out Vincenzo Nibali, left, and Alejandro Valverde, right
Chris Horner became the oldest Grand Tour winner in history by completing overall victory at the Vuelta a Espana as Michael Matthews sprinted to glory on stage 21.
American Horner, who turns 42 next month, safely negotiated a flat, 109.6km day into Madrid to seal a 37-second triumph over Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, with Spain's Alejandro Valverde consolidating third place overall, 1min 36sec down.
Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) also clinched victory in the combined classification, while Valverde (Movistar) topped the points classification and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) took victory in the mountains classification.
Horner said afterwards: "I have been a professional for almost 20 years, so this represents a lifetime of hard work. The memories will last forever. It was probably the hardest victory I have ever had in my career. Every victory is special, but today is an amazing day."
Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) claimed his second win of the race after beating Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) into second place and Nikias Arndt (Argos-Shimano) into third with a dominant performance in the centre of the Spanish capital.
Arndt was delivered into pole position by his team-mates, but Matthews had taken up station on the opposite side of the road and powered through to victory in impressive style.
Horner and the rest of the general classification contenders followed in the main bunch as one of the most testing and closely fought Grand Tours in years reached its finale.
Michael Matthews sprinted to his second win of the race
Horner walks away with the winner's red jersey after a three-week duel with Nibali (Astana) in which the race leadership changed hands several times.
Despite a 13-year age difference, though, Horner proved too strong for the younger man in the final week's three summit finishes, dropping the him on each day and prevailing from an epic battle between the two men on the famous Alto de L'Angliru on stage 20.
Stage 21 had been largely processional for the first half of the day, but the race sparked into life when the riders reached Madrid and embarked on the first of eight laps of a 5.7km finishing circuit.
Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) was the first to attack and was joined a lap later by Alessandro Vanotti (Astana), but despite the duo opening up a gap of over 20 seconds, they were unable to fend off the sprint trains and were swallowed up 5km from home.
The fast men then came to the fore and Matthews confirmed his status as the stand-out sprinter of the race by claiming a famous triumph.
Stage 21 result
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, 2:44:00
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, same time
3 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano, st
4 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, st
5 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida, st
6 Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
7 Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, st
8 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano, st
9 Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural, st
10 Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin, st
Final general classification
1 Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard, 84:36:04
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +37secs
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +1:36
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +3:22
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Saxo-Tinkoff, +7:11
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +8:00
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +8:41
8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, +9:51
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura, +10:11
10 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, +13:11
- Green (points classification): Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
- Blue polka dot (mountains classification): Nicolas Edet (Cofidis)
- White (combined classification): Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard)