Vuelta a Espana review: Stage-by-stage

The 68th Vuelta a Espana is now in the record books. Three weeks and 11 summit finishes later, it was Chris Horner who stood on the top step of the podium in Madrid.

But how did he get there? Here’s a quick stage-by-stage reminder of the story of the 2013 Vuelta (including links to each of our stage recaps).

Stage 1: Vilanova de Arousa to Sanxenxo, 27.4km team time trial

Recap

Astana produced a late charge to win the team time trial and put Janez Brajkovic into the race’s first red jersey, pushing RadioShack-Leopard and Omega Pharma-Quick Step down to second and third respectively.

Stage winner: Astana.

General classification: 1. Janez Brajkovic  2. Vincenzo Nibali same time, 3. Paolo Tiralongo s/t.

Excitement factor: 2/5.

Reclining statue at the Sanxenxo waterfront

Reclining statue at the Sanxenxo waterfront

Stage 2: Ponteverda to Baiona. Alto Do Monte Da Groba, 177.7km

Recap

A late attack by Leopold Konig on the race’s first summit finish provided the perfect springboard for a perfectly timed late move by Nicolas Roche, who held off Daniel Moreno and Domenico Pozzovivo to claim his first grand tour stage. Vincenzo Nibali took over the race lead from teammate Brajkovic.

Stage winner: Nicolas Roche.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Nicolas Roche +0:08, 3. Haimar Zubeldia +0:10.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Who can honestly say they predicted this? Not us, that's for sure ... (Image: Vuelta website)

Nico Roche celebrates victory on stage 2 (Image: Vuelta website)

Stage 3: Vigo to Mirador de Lobeira/Vilagarcia de Arousa, 184.8km

Recap

At the end of a nervy day, the final 4km saw attacks by Juan Antonio Flecha and Ivan Santaromita before Chris Horner sprinted past Santaromita and kept going to win by three seconds. In doing so, he became both the oldest ever stage winner and overall leader at any of the three grand tours.

Stage winner: Chris Horner.

General classification: 1. Chris Horner, 2. Vincenzo Nibali +0:03, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:11.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Horner does his best karate Kid impression )Image: AFP/Vuelta)

Horner does his best karate Kid impression (Image: AFP/Vuelta)

Stage 4: Lalin / a Estrada to Fisterra, 189km

Recap

Flecha attacked again on the short uncategorised climb to the finish. This time it was Daniel Moreno who took advantage of hesitation in the pack to jump clear to win. In chasing down and narrowly failing to catch Moreno, Fabian Cancellara’s efforts resulted in a small split in the bunch – enough for the red jersey to pass back from Horner to Nibali.

Stage winner: Daniel Moreno.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:03, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:08.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Stage 5: Sober to Lago de Sanabria, 174.3km

Recap

Michael Matthews catapulted himself out of the final corner to win an uphill sprint. It came at the end of a relatively leisurely day on which the peloton had allowed the day’s break to enjoy an advantage of over ten minutes before bringing everything back together for the finale.

Stage winner: Michael Matthews.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:03, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:08.

Excitement factor: 1/5.

Image: Vuelta website

Image: Vuelta website

Stage 6: Guijueulo to Caceres, 175km

Recap

World time trial champion Tony Martin rode solo for most of the day and made the peloton work hard to close him down after they had him in their sights with over 20km to go. He was only swamped by the bunch in the last 50 metres as Michael Morkov was the surprise winner of a scrappy sprint.

Stage winner: Michael Morkov.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:03, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:08.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Stage 7: Almendralejo to Mairena de Alijarafe, 205.9km

Recap

The sprinters were again denied on this largely flat stage as Zdenek Stybar and Philippe Gilbert popped off the front of the bunch with 10km remaining to contest their own private two-up sprint. The Czech rider managed to hold off the rainbow jersey by a tyre’s width in one of the closest finishes of the season.

Stage winner: Zdenek Stybar.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:03, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:08.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Don't look now, Marco, but they're behind you! (Image: Vuelta website)

Don’t look now, Marco, but they’re behind you! (Image: Vuelta website)

Stage 8: Jerez de la Frontera to Estepona, 166.6km

Recap

Leopold Konig timed his attack perfectly in the final kilometre of this first of three consecutive summit finishes. He put in one peloton-splitting attack on the final climb before outwitting and finally powering away from Nicolas Roche to claim both his and NetApp-Endura’s first grand tour victory. Roche had the consolation of moving into the overall lead.

Stage winner: Leopold Konig.

General classification: 1. Nicolas Roche, 2. Chris Horner +0:17, 3. Daniel Moreno same time.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Konig - literally the king of the mountain (Image: Vuelta website)

Konig – the king of the mountain (Image: Vuelta website)

Stage 9: Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen, 163.7km,

Recap

Dani Moreno claimed his second stage and his first red jersey, flattening his opponents with an attack on the steepest 27% section of the concluding, brutal 1km climb through Valdepenas de Jaen. This came after Edvald Boasson Hagen’s late attack was hauled back with just 2km remaining.

Stage winner: Daniel Moreno.

General classification: 1. Daniel Moreno, 2. Nicolas Roche +0:01, 3. Vincenzo Nibali +0:17.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Stage 10: Torredelcampo to Guejar Sierra, 186.8km

Recap

Chris Horner leapt out of the select group in the final 5km of the HC Alto de Hazallanas climb, building a 45-second lead which he was able to maintain despite a late lone pursuit by Vincenzo Nibali. His second victory put him back into the red jersey going into the first rest day.

Stage winner: Chris Horner.

General classification: 1. Chris Horner, 2. Vincenzo Nibali +0:43, 3. Nicolas Roche +0:53.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Stage 11: Tarazona to Tarazona, 38.8km individual time trial

Recap

In a race of two halves, Fabian Cancellara comprehensively beat world champion Tony Martin for the stage win, while Nibali’s fourth-fastest time saw him recapture the race lead from Horner. The surprise of the day, though, was Domenico Pozzovivo’s third place, one second faster than Nibali.

Stage winner: Fabian Cancellara.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Nicolas Roche +0:33, 3. Alejandro Valverde +0:46.

Excitement factor: 2/5.

Celebrating, Cancellara-style

Celebrating, Cancellara-style

Stage 12: Maella to Tarragona, 164.2km

Recap

Another flat finish and another day on which the sprinters were denied a bunch finish. Edvald Boasson Hagen went early with 350 metres to go and surged several lengths clear as the sprint teams hesitated fatally, only for Philippe Gilbert to fly across the gap to overhaul him and claim his first victory in the rainbow bands.

Stage winner: Philippe Gilbert.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Nicolas Roche +0:31, 3. Alejandro Valverde +0:46.

Excitement factor: 2/5.

Gilbert finally secured a long overdue win in the rainbow jersey (Image: Vuelta website)

Gilbert finally secured a long overdue win in the rainbow jersey (Image: Vuelta website)

Stage 13: Valls to Castelldefels, 169km

Recap

The peloton allowed a ten-man group to stay away to contest the finish, and 21-year-old Warren Barguil‘s solo move under the flamme rouge saw him sweep to a comfortable victory.

Stage winner: Warren Barguil.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Nicolas Roche +0:31, 3. Alejandro Valverde +0:46.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Stage 14: Baga to Andorra. Collada de la Gallina, 155.7km

Recap

On a cold and wet day which saw several riders abandon, aggressive descending after the day’s penultimate climb allowed Daniele Ratto to shake off the remains of a five-man break and reach the summit finish on Collada de la Gallina close to four minutes ahead of the GC contenders.

Stage winner: Daniele Ratto.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:50, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:42.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Sheer delight for Ratto (Image: Vuelta website)

Sheer delight for Ratto (Image: Vuelta website)

Stage 15: Andorra to Peyragudes, 224.9km

Recap

A combination of superior climbing and descending skills on the Port de Bales saw Alexandre Geniez become the sole survivor of an early 28-man break. He arrived at Peyragudes alone as the GC contenders were happy to let a breakaway have their day for the third successive stage.

Stage winner: Alexandre Geniez.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:50, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:42.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

This way for pain ...

This way for pain …

Stage 16: Graus to Sallent de Gallego, 146.8km

Recap

Warren Barguil claimed his second stage in a see-saw battle which saw him first jump away from the break on the final climb and then caught by Rigoberto Uran with barely 1km remaining. But the young Frenchman clung on, gathered himself and squeezed past Uran in the final sprint. Behind him, Chris Horner dropped race leader Nibali, taking back 22 seconds to nearly halve his deficit.

Stage winner: Warren Barguil.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:28, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:14.

Excitement factor: 5/5.

Two wins - and Barguil is still only 21 (Image: Argos Shimano)

Two wins – and Barguil is still only 21 (Image: Argos Shimano)

Stage 17: Calahorra to Burgos, 189km

Recap

After some fraught echelon racing, the peloton lined up for a rare bunch finish. However, they were ambushed by Bauke Mollema, who jumped clear inside the final kilometre and hung on to deny the sprinters a tilt at glory.

Stage winner: Bauke Mollema.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:28, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:14.

Excitement factor: 3/5.

Stage 18: Burgos to Pena Cabarga, 186.5km

Recap

Vasil Kiryienka attacked the breakaway and soloed 45km to victory at the summit of Pena Cabarga. Two minutes behind, Vincenzo Nibali was dropped by Chris Horner and a number of his other rivals in the final 1.5km, and saw his overall lead slashed to just three seconds.

Stage winner: Vasil Kiryienka.

General classification: 1. Vincenzo Nibali, 2. Chris Horner +0:03, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:09.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

Pena Cabarga summit

Pena Cabarga summit

Stage 19: S Vicente Barquera to Oviedo. alto Naranco, 181km

Recap

Joaquim Rodriguez put in a blistering attack under the flamme rouge to claim victory. Once again, Nibali was unable to keep pace with Horner, who reversed his three-second deficit to take the red jersey by the same margin – his third stint in the overall lead.

Stage winner: Joaquim Rodriguez.

General classification: 1. Chris Horner, 2. Vincenzo Nibali +0:03, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:06.

Excitement factor: 4/5.

J-Rod putting the hurt on everyone, including himself

J-Rod putting the hurt on everyone, including himself

Stage 20: Aviles to Alto de L’Angliru, 142.2km

Recap

Kenny Elissonde won almost unnoticed from the day’s break at the summit of the Angliru as the final battle for the red jersey unfolded behind him. Astana and Vincenzo Nibali threw everything they had at Chris Horner, but the American withstood every attack and distanced all his rivals in the final 2km to confirm his position as 2013 Vuelta champion-in-waiting.

Stage winner: Kenny Elissonde.

General classification: 1. Chris Horner, 2. Vincenzo Nibali +0:37, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:36.

Excitement factor: 5/5.

Stage 21: Leganes to Madrid, 109.6km

Recap

Michael Matthews scored his second sprint victory, easily holding off Tyler Farrar, as Chris Horner finished safely in the pack to claim the winner’s spoils.

Stage winner: Michael Matthews.

General classification: 1. Chris Horner, 2. Vincenzo Nibali +0:37, 3. Alejandro Valverde +1:36.

Excitement factor: 1/5.

The 2013 champion (Image: Vuelta website)

The 2013 champion (Image: Vuelta website)

Roll of honour

Overall winner: Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).

Points winner: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

King of the Mountains winner: Nicolas Edet (Cofidis).

Combination classification winner: Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).

Team prize: Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Link: Official website

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