Vuelta a España: Michael Matthews takes final Vuelta stage as Horner crowned as winner
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vuelta a España: Michael Matthews takes final Vuelta stage as Horner crowned as winner

by Ben Atkins at 11:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
Australian the fastest of the sprinters in ceremonial Madrid finale

michael matthews

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took his second stage victory of the 2013 Vuelta a España as he sprinted at the head of the peloton at the end of the largely ceremonial final stage, between Leganes and the Spanish capital Madrid. The 22-year-old Australian burst clear of the pack, from behind the Argos-Shimano lead out of Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg and Nikias Arndt, and managed to pull more than a length clear as he hit the line.

American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) took his best result of the race in second place, with Arndt taking third just behind him.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Matthews afterwards. “It’s one thing to come to a Grand Tour with good form and good spirit, it’s another thing to come out of a Grand Tour with two stage wins including the last one.

“I wasn’t expecting two stage wins,” he said. “It was a difficult task for my team-mates to bring me to a sprint finish but they’ve done it at perfection, today and the rest of the Tour. I couldn’t ask for more. My victories come from the team spirit and all the work done with my coach, Brian Stephens. In the third week of the Vuelta, I didn’t think too much of this stage in Madrid. I was more concerned about not wasting energy. There weren’t maybe all the best sprinters in the world at this Vuelta, but the sprints were also not the usual ones.

“The sprinters that were here are the world’s top sprinters on this terrain,” he added. “To win on the Champs-Elysées at the Tour de France as well as here is a bit of a step but that’s my goal for the future. I first have to make the Tour team.”

Comfortably in the peloton behind the sprinters was red jersey Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard), who was confirmed as the oldest ever rider, and the first ever American, to win the Vuelta a España.

“It’s been a fantastic Vuelta,” Horner said. “I came here super motivated and the organisers gave a tailor-made course for my style of racing with only a short time trial.

“I don’t know if I believed I could win the Vuelta but I believed I could make the podium,” he continued. “It’s a lifetime of memories and hard work to get here. Every year of my 19-year long career, I’ve tried to be a better cyclist. Every victory is amazing and all Grand Tours have a special place in the memories of the riders, but this one will last for ever. It’s so complicated to get to this level.

“My daughters are 16 and 14, my son is 11, at the difference of most children of Grand Tour winners, they understand what they’re watching,” the 41-year-old added. “Coming back home will be amazing too. Spain is always special to me. My character fits well with Spanish lifestyle. I particularly feel at home in the Basque country. I hope that people have enjoyed the show. There’s a possibility that I won’t continue with the same team-mates.

“I don’t know where I’m gonna be next year,” he concluded. “I can’t talk about the Tour de France as long as I don’t know which team I’ll ride for but I want to race for another two seasons at least because my legs are feeling well and I’m psychologically very strong.”

The 109.6km stage was ridden, as usual, at a relaxed pace on the way into Madrid, with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team leading the peloton around the first of the 5.7km circuits to commemorate what was to be the final Vuelta for the orange team.

As soon as the bunch had crossed the line after 69km, however, Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked. The Spanish rider managed to get 45 seconds ahead of the peloton and, once this had been pulled back to 20 seconds, he was joined by Alessandro Vanotti (Astana).

The two riders then managed to get 38 seconds clear once more, but were steadily hunted down by the sprinters’ teams, and they were caught with five kilometres to go. There was a short attack from Zak Dempster (NetApp-Endura), but the Australian wasn’t able to get far, and the race finished in its almost inevitable sprint.

More details and reactions to follow

Result stage 21
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
4. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
6. Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, solutions credits
8. Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano
9. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling

Final overall standings
1. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Pro Team Astana @ 37s
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 1’36”
4. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team @ 3’22”
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 7’11”
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 8’00”
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) @ 8’41”
9. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 9’51”
7. Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura @ 10’11”
10. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team @ 13’11”


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