Horner Wins Vuelta; Matthews Wins Final Stage
The 2013 Vuelta a Espana is history. It was history not simply as a cycling event but because Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) became the first American to win the Vuelta. In addition, he became, at 41 years old, the oldest cyclist to win a Grand Tour. Horner claimed victory at the conclusion of the 21st and final stage of the race. Michael Matthews (GreenEdge) won the flat, 109.6-km run from Leganes to Madrid in 2:44:00. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished second, and Niklas Arndt (Argos-Shimano) took third.
Today’s stage began the way most final stages of Grand Tours begin. The peloton pedaled out of Leganes in a relaxed mood and at a relaxed pace. After three weeks of intense racing, riders joked and mugged for cameras. Euskaltel-Euskadi, the Basque squad that will come under new sponsorship after the 2013 season, led the field onto the first of eight 5.7-km circuits.
With 69 km left, Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) began the hostilities. He jumped clear and forged a 45-second lead. The peloton cut his advantage to 0:20, but Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) joined him. The pair’s lead maxed out at 0:38.
The peloton chased hard, and with two laps remaining, the break led the bunch by 0:17. Garmin-Sharp and Lampre-Merida led the pursuit. Cannondale joined these two squads at the front, and the peloton reeled in Aramendia with five km remaining. With a little less than three km to go, Zak Dempster (NetApp-Endura) attacked, but the bunch caught him.
Argos-Shimano, Vacansoleil-DCM, and Team GreenEdge led the field into the last km. Argos-Shimano took command. Farrar sprinted early, but Matthews came around Argos-Shimano’s leadout to overtake the American and claim his and his team’s second stage win of the Vuelta.
Matthews’s second stage win was a reward for GreenEdge, which finished the race with only five riders. The team persevered and earned success today. “The Vuelta could not have finished off any better for the team,” the Australian said. “We lost a fair few guys over the last few weeks, but everyone who was left did their job perfectly today. They put me in the right position to launch myself for the sprint.
“It’s been an amazing tour. I can’t imagine a better ending than this. Two stage wins and time in the green jersey at my first Grand Tour is very special for me. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The wins aren’t just for me. They’re for the whole team. When the boys do what they do for me, it’s an unbelievable feeling to finish off their work.”
As for Horner, the American felt that he could earn a high placing in this Vuelta when he saw the course. “I loved this course. When I first saw the design I knew it was perfect for me and my style of racing. We started with the team time trial. With Fabian Cancellara leading us, I knew he could put me in a position to take the jersey. I don’t think at that point I believed I could win the Vuelta, but I did feel the podium was possible and that I could wear red at some moment in the race. I came here super motivated.
“I’ve been a professional for almost 20 years so this represents a lifetime of hard work. A Grand Tour is always a goal for a cyclist to show how good a rider you are. The memories will last forever and the riders I came with were amazing and my team has been fantastic. My family is home watching. My daughters are