Chris Horner of the U.S. became the oldest winner of one of cycling’s Grand Tour races with victory in the Vuelta a Espana at age 41.
The RadioShack rider finished 37 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali of Italy yesterday after the last of 21 stages, a 68-mile ride from Leganes to Madrid. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, who won the race in 2009, finished third.
The previous oldest winner of one of cycling’s biggest three-week stage races was Firmin Lambot, a Belgian who won the 1922 Tour de France at 36. The other Grand Tour is the Giro d’Italia, which the 28-year-old Nibali, who rides for the Astana team, won in May.
“I have faced younger and great riders like Nibali, Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez,” Horner told journalists in Spain. “They have had a great tour so for me it is a legendary moment that may not be repeated.”
Horner is the first American to win the Spanish race. He rode for RadioShack since 2010, when he was a teammate of Lance Armstrong. The previous biggest race win of his 18-year career was the 2011 Tour of California.
The RadioShack team said today that the Spanish anti-doping agency violated Horner’s privacy after the news wire Europa Press, citing an unidentified person in the agency, reported that winner missed a drug test in Madrid this morning.
According to a RadioShack team statement, Spanish agency testers went to the wrong hotel in Madrid, a day after Horner had e-mailed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, to say where he would be staying. The team published the e-mail communication between Horner and USADA.
Spanish agency spokesman Miguel Angel Adan said it had carried out a request in good faith for USADA and didn’t find him at the specified hotel. Adan said he couldn’t comment on the RadioShack statement.
Trek Bicycle Corp. is taking over the RadioShack squad after this season. Horner, who lives in Bend, Oregon, hasn’t yet agreed to join the team, which has signed riders including Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara and 41-year-old Jens Voigt.
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