Frenchman Kenny Elissonde took the 142.2km 20th stage from Aviles to Alto
de L’Angliru ahead of Horner in second and Alejandro Valverde in third.
However, the 41-year-old Horner pulled away from Vincenzo Nibali in the
final 2km to leave the Italian 28sec behind in fourth and ensure he will
cruise to victory in the procession around Madrid in the final stage on Sunday.
“I don’t need any time for it to sink in,” the RadioShack rider told TVE.
“I had a long time to think about what an accomplishment it would be today
and how hard it would be, but it will be something that lasts a lifetime.”
Horner had to withstand a series of attacks by Nibali on the 12.2km climb
up the Alto de L’Angliru to the finish with gradients of over 20 percent in
Nibali though couldn’t open up a significant gap on Horner and eventually
paid the price for his incessant attacks as he was left without the strength
to follow Horner in the final couple of kilometres.
“Nibali was amazing,” continued Horner.
“To win here for me is unbelievable with such great champions like Nibali
“I could only hope that Nibali would put in an attack like that at the end
to make it so epic for the fans. To see him attack 10 or 15 times, I’m sure
the fans must have been on the edge of their seat.
“I think it is an amazing moment, everyone at home got to watch a legendary
moment which we may never see again in a guy of my age winning a grand tour.
“I hope everyone that watched it enjoyed every pedal stroke and all the
suffering I had to the finish line just as much as I did.”
Nibali managed to avoid losing any time on Valverde to guarantee that he
will finish second after winning the Giro d’Italia earlier this year.
And Valverde also secured his place on the podium as he finished nearly two
minutes ahead of compatriot Joaquim Rodriguez.
“I tried to attack whenever it was possible,” Nibali said afterwards.
“I am happy with the tour that I have had and we need to bear in mind that
Horner has been a solid and strong leader. We had tactics for today but they
didn’t develop as we hoped, everyone was waiting on every move that we made.”
With all the excitement in the general classification, Elissonde’s first
stage victory in a grand tour was somewhat overshadowed.
However, the 22-year-old was delighted to claim victory in such a famous
“It was very difficult but it is unbelievable that I have won,” he said.
“It is one of the toughest climbs in the world so to win today is one of
the happiest days of my life.”
Results from the 20th stage of the Tour of Spain,
a 142.2km ride from Aviles to Alto de L’Angliru on Saturday:
1. Kenny Elissonde (FRA/FDJ) 3h55min 36sec
2. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) at 0:26.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:54.
4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 0:54.
5. André Cardoso (POR/CJR) 0:54.
6. Dominik Nerz (GER/BMC) 0:54.
7. José Mendes (POR/APP) 1:15.
8. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 1:45.
9. Serge Pauwels (BEL/OPQ) 1:52.
10. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 1:59.
11. David Arroyo (ESP/CJR) 1:59.
12. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 2:20.
13. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 2:26.
14. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 2:26.
15. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 2:38.
16. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 3:07.
17. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 3:14.
18. Rafal Majka (POL/SAX) 3:42.
19. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 3:42.
20. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 3:53.
1. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 81h 52min 01sec
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) at 0:37.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:36.
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 3:22.
5. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 7:11.
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 8:00.
7. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 8:41.
8. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 9:51.
9. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 10:11.
10. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 13:11.
11. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 14:05.
12. José Herrada (ESP/MOV) 16:48.
13. David Arroyo (ESP/CJR) 17:34.
14. Dominik Nerz (GER/BMC) 19:26.
15. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 22:04.
16. André Cardoso (POR/CJR) 25:03.
17. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 25:06.
18. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 27:02.
19. Rafal Majka (POL/SAX) 32:52.
20. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 23:05.