A superb second place on the 20th stage had given the 41 year old American the lead over Vincenzo Nibali and all Horner had to do was to finish the 109km stage 21 from Leganes to Madrid.
The stage of what has been a superb race was largely ceremonial and Following a quiet parade in the outskirts of Madrid through Pinto, the home of Alberto Contador, the winners of the teams classification Euskaltel entered the capital at the front of the bunch as a symbolic “adios” from the folding Basque squad.
Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked at km 69 before being joined by Astana's Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) with 32kms to go.
On to the final lap around the Spanish capital and Aramendia and Vanotti were caught leaving the likes of Team Sky, Argos Shimano and Orica Green Edge to set up the sprint.
And a sprint it was with Orica Green Edge's Michael Matthews taking his second win of the race in 2.44.00 ahead of Tyler Farrar, Arndt, Meersman and Richeze.
Chris Horner finished 47th three seconds back and he finished 37 seconds ahead of Astana's Vincenzo Nibali to win the race.
Chris Horner has said that he wants to ride for another two seasons after winning the Vuelta a España.
Speaking about his win in the twenty one stage race which finished in Madrid on Sunday afternoon, Horner who is out of contract at Radio Shack said to La Vuelta.com: “It’s been a fantastic Vuelta. I came here super motivated and the organizers gave a tailor-made course for my style of racing with only a short time trial.
“I don’t know if I believed I could win the Vuelta but I believed I could make the podium. It’s a lifetime of memories and hard work to get here.
“Every year of my 19-year long career, I’ve tried to be a better cyclist. Every victory is amazing and all Grand Tours have a special place in the memories of the riders, but this one will last for ever.
“It’s so complicated to get to this level. My daughters are 16 and 14, my son is 11, at the difference of most children of Grand Tour winners, they understand what they’re watching. Coming back home will be amazing too. Spain is always special to me. My character fits well with Spanish lifestyle. I particularly feel at home in the Basque country.
“I hope that people have enjoyed the show.
“There’s a possibility that I won’t continue with the same team-mates. I don’t know where I’m gonna be next year, I can’t talk about the Tour de France as long as I don’t know which team I’ll ride for but I want to race for another two seasons at least because my legs are feeling well and I’m psychologically very strong. “