Horner Wins Vuelta; Matthews Wins Final Stage
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 16 and 14, and my son is 11 so they are old enough to appreciate this. Many riders winning in their 20s and early 30s have small children but mine are at the age where they can appreciate what Dad is doing. When I get back, it will be quite the topic at home.
“Every year I am motivated to win and try to be the best cyclist I can be. I’ve had great times throughout my career with victories standing on podiums. Every victory is special but today is an amazing day. I hope the fans appreciated this race. It’s so complicated to get to this point and then have such good luck, to stay healthy and not crash at the wrong moment. All factors have to come together just right to bring home the win.”
Horner won the Vuelta by 0:37 over Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 1:36 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). In other competitions, Valverde won the points jersey, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) took the mountain ranking, and Horner and Euskaltel-Euskadi won the mountain and team rankings, respectively. Many of the riders of the Vuelta will race in the world championships and the Giro di Lombardia. Check in at www.roadcycling.com to see how they fare!
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If you're located in the USA you can watch video highlights from all stages of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana in our videos section.