Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) won the final stage of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana on the day Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) was crowned champion.
Matthews, 22, won a bunch sprint in Madrid ahead of second-placed Tyler Farrer (Garmin-Sharp) and Argos-Shimano’s Niklas Arndt, who was third.
The Australian, who had earlier claimed stage five at the expense of world road race champion, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), described his debut Vuelta as “an amazing tour”.
“I can’t imagine a better ending than this,” Matthews said.
“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.”
Horner’s overall victory at the age of 41 makes him the oldest winner of a Grand Tour in the history of the sport. The American won two stages of the Vuelta en route to the biggest victory of his career.
He said: “I’ve been a professional for almost 20 years, so this represents a lifetime of hard work.”
Horner had all-but sealed overall victory a stage earlier, when he survived a series of stinging attacks from Giro d’Italia champion, Vincenzo Niabli (Astana), on the brutal slopes of the Alto de l’Angrilu to extend his lead from three seconds to 37.
“Yesterday you saw how much effort Nibali put in to try to win this race,” Horner said. “It was no walk in the park for me. It was probably the hardest victory I’ve ever had in my career, and possibly the hardest race I’ve had in my career.”
Nibali, who finished second overall, will focus now on the world road race championships in Florence on Sunday September 29. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) completed the final podium.
Vuelta a Espana 2013: stage 21 – result
1) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 2.44.00
2) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp – ST
3) Niklas Ardnt (GER) – Argos-Shimano)
4) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
5) Maximilliano Richeze (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
6) Grega Bole (SLO) – Vacansoleil-DCM
7) Adrien Petit (FRA) – Cofidis
8) Reinardt Van Rensburg (RSA – Argos-Shimano
9) Francesco Lasca (ITA) – Caja Rural
10) Robert Wagner (GER) – Belkin Pro Cycling
1) Chris Horner (USA) – Radioshack-Leopard – 84.36.04
2) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +37″
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.36
4) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – 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 (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +9.51
9) Leopold Konig (CZE) – NetApp-Endura +10.11
10) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +13.11