Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) has won the third stage of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana and claimed the red jersey of race leader.
The American, the oldest rider in the race, broke clear of an elite group of riders as they passed under the flamme rouge at the summit of the third category Mirador de Lobeira.
Horner held off two of the pre-race favourites to claim a victory that had seemed improbable for a 41-year-old – one that his team say makes him the oldest winner of a Grand Tour stage in the sport’s history.
Movistar leader, Alejandro Valverde, was second, while Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) finished third.
Horner, who will find himself out of contract at the end of the season when the Radioshack-Leopard team disbands, said he had no plans to hang up his wheels.
“I love racing. Everyone keeps asking me when I am going to retire, but I won’t do that until I feel like I’m just suffering all day on the bike and never winning bike races. At this moment I feel like I can keep racing forever,” he said.
An early five-man break secured an extended tenure at the front of the race on a crash-hit 184.8km route from Vigo to Arousa.
Crosswinds caused the damage, but all of the favourites, except for Bauke Mollema (Belkin) survived the carnage to remain at the head of the field. The Dutch rider instead faced a long afternoon chasing back to the leaders with his Belkin team-mates.
Horner called on all his experience to jump clear as the stage reached its denouement and outfox Valverde, Rodriguez and then race leader, Vincenzo Nibali, in the final kilometre.
“We feel we can keep this jersey for a few days,” Horner said afterwards.
“The team is so strong, we will work to keep it. We will work for more stage wins too – I think I can win the Vuelta.”