Veteran cyclist Chris Horner, 41, wins Tour of Spain
September 15, 2013 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Chris Horner dons the race leader's red jersey on his way to winning the Tour of Spain cycling race.
- 41-year-old cyclist wins Tour of Spain
- American Chris Horner wraps up victory in Madrid
- Oldest winner of one of cycling's grand tours
- Relegates Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali to second
(CNN) -- Belying his 41 years and 327 days, Chris Horner has defied sporting convention by wrapping up victory in the Tour of Spain Sunday.
The American, who rides for the RadioShack-Leopard team, maintained his 37-second advantage over Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the reigning Giro d'Italia champion, after the final stage in Madrid.
Home hope Alejandro Valverde, a former winner of La Vuelta, finished third.
Australian Michael Matthews won the final stage after a bunch sprint, but all the focus was on Horner in the red jersey of overall leader as he finished safely in the main bunch.
Read: RadioShack and Leopard teams merge
At an age when most professional sportsmen are long retired, Horner has claimed one of cycling's three Grand Tours, the other races being the famed Tour de France and the Giro.
Cycling for a better future
How has cycling recovered?
Armstrong's cycling legacy
Initially taking the lead on the third of 21 stages, Horner battled 2010 Vuelta winner Nibali throughout the three-week long endurance test.
Nibali went into the final week with a 50-second advantage, but Horner nibbled at the lead until taking it for the final time on Friday's 19th stage.
Extending it to over half a minute after the brutal 12km climb to Alto de L'Angliru on the penultimate day, Horner merely had to stay upright on the flat final leg to seal his improbable triumph.
"I have faced younger and great riders like Nibali, Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez," he told gathered reporters.
Read: Are women cyclists second class citizens?
"They have had a great tour so for me it is a legendary moment that may not be repeated.
"I know I am also the first North American to win the Tour of Spain and this makes me very proud of my work and above all that of my teammates."
Horner is the oldest winner of one of cycling's three majors by some margin. Switzerland's Tony Rominger was eight years younger when winning the Tour of Spain in 1994 and the oldest Tour de France winner is Fermin Lambot, who was 36 when he triumphed in 1922.
The oldest rider in today's professional peloton is Germany's Jens Voigt, who turns 42 on Tuesday, but now rides as a support rider for Horner's RadioShack team.
Read: Armstrong returns Olympic medal
Horner, whose best finish in the Tour de France is 10th place, also played a similar role for the now disgraced Lance Armstrong with the Astana and RadioShack squads, but has achieved his best results since his infamous compatriot retired.
His La Vuelta heroics have now earned him a place in the sporting record books that will be difficult to match.
Part of complete coverage on
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
The Olympics must use its global reach and immense popularity to help save a generation, says sporting icon Sergei Bubka.
August 7, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN's Fred Pleitgen exposes a history of German government-funded doping throughout the Cold War.
April 9, 2013 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
A six-day run that covers more than 220 km through the scorching heat of the Sahara desert has been billed as the "World's toughest race."
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
He plays the only sport approved by the Taliban, a game he learned as a war refugee in Pakistan.
April 4, 2013 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
How do you like your sport? Blood, sweat, tears and a nailbiting finish, no doubt. But what about death?
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
Disgraced doper Lance Armstrong's quest to take part in a swimming event in Texas appears to have been sunk before he's even hit the water.
December 18, 2012 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
New research suggests the use of ice baths to aid recovery after intense exercise is not as beneficial as previously thought.
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
It's not easy carrying the burden of a sports-mad nation's lofty expectations of world-beating dominance on your shoulders.
December 6, 2012 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Forty days alone in the wilderness was enough for Jesus, but Lance Armstrong is facing an altogether longer period of solitude.
November 28, 2012 -- Updated 2142 GMT (0542 HKT)
The flip side to this health time bomb is the paradox that more and more amateur athletes are taking on extreme endurance challenges.
November 28, 2012 -- Updated 1937 GMT (0337 HKT)
All Black fly-half Dan Carter talks to CNN's Sophia Heath as New Zealand prepares to take on England at Twickenham.
November 29, 2012 -- Updated 1833 GMT (0233 HKT)
New Zealand's Dan Carter reveals the five fly-halfs that inspired him.
November 24, 2012 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Boxing legend Hector "Macho" Camacho has died. CNN's Nick Valencia looks back on his life.
July 31, 2012 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
You may not be headed to the Olympics, but that doesn't mean you can't join in the fun! Welcome to the CNN iReport sports photo master class.
July 25, 2012 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
Look over the edge as cliff divers compete in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2012 in Portugal.
July 19, 2012 -- Updated 2229 GMT (0629 HKT)
The Houston Rockets sign basketball sensation Jeremy Lin after the New York Knicks fail to match their NBA rivals' three-year, $25 million offer.
May 31, 2012 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
Reza Beluchi has been running all his life, running for freedom, running for peace. He ran away from his homeland, Iran, and has traveled the world.
Today's five most popular stories