The Festina rider picked up the 10th stage victory of his career in the event but it is the first time he has been the race leader in his 11 years as a professional. He covered the 142-mile third stage, between La Roda and Fuenlabrada, just outside Madrid, in 6hr 2min 50sec.
Italy's Giovanni Lombardi, who rides for Deutsche Telekom and finished third on Monday, was again outsmarted in the sprint and had to settle for second place after the longest stage of this year's Tour. Russia's Sergei Smetanin, of Vitalicio Seguros, finished third. Lombardi and Smetanin were given the same time as the winner.
"In the sprint [on Monday] everything fell into place, I was getting a lot of help from my team," Wust said. "Today was a lot more complicated, more of an indidividual effort.
"The Deutsche Telekom riders were trying to get their men into position and I had to fight to get through but I'm a sprint specialist so I've experienced these things before."
Wust feels at home in the Tour of Spain, having married a Spaniard and owning a house in Catalonia.
"It's definitely my favourite big race," he said. "The other two major Tours are great but here I'm treated as though I am a Spaniard and the supporters give me a big lift."
Away from the Tour, there was sad news yesterday when police announced that a former King of the Mountains in the Tour de France, Thierry Claveyrolat, committed suicide by shooting himself.
The 40-year-old Frenchman won the polka dot jersey for best climber in 1990, a year in which he finished second in the Dauphine Libere competition and won the Tour of the Basque Country. He went on to win two Tour de France mountain stages in 1991, before retiring in 1994.
Born in Vizille, in the southeastern Isere region, his performance in the mountains earned him the nickname the "Eagle of Vizille." After retiring from cycling, Claveyrolat went into the restaurant business.
TOUR OF SPAIN Third stage (La Roda to Fuenlabrada, 229.5km, 142 miles): 1 M Wust (Ger) Festina 6hr 2min 50sec; 2 G Lombardi (It) Deutsche Telekom; 3 S Smetanin (Rus) Vitalicio; 4 S Knaven (Neth) TVM; 5 J Svorada (Cz Rep) Lampre; 6 F Guidi (It) Polti; 7 G Raimondi (It) Liquigas; 8 J Dean (NZ) US Postal; 9 C Moreni (It) Liquigas; 10 A Edo (Sp) Kelme; 11 G Magnusson (Swe) US Posta; 12 M Perdiguero (Sp) ONCE; 13 E Anguita (Sp) Fuenlabrada; 14 G Gwiazdowski (Pol) Cofidis; 15 K Beeckman (Bel) Lotto all same time.
Leading overall standings: 1 Wust 15hr 33 min 51sec; 2 R McEwen (Aus) Rabobank +9sec; 3 R Hunter (SA) Lampre +10; 4 I G Galdeano (Sp) Vitalicio +15; 5 A Olano (Sp) ONCE-Deutsche bank +16; 6 I Cuesta (Sp) ONCE-Deutsche bank +17; 7 M Lafis (Swe) TVM +17; 8 G Niermann (Ger) Rabobank +17; 9 M A Martin Perdiguero (Sp) ONCE-Deutsche Bank +18; 10 F Hoj, (Den) US Postal +19; 11 Smetanin +20; 12 A Tauler (Sp) s/t; 13 V Pena (Col) Vitalicio +21; 14 W McRae (US) Mapei; 15 R Sorensen (Denmark) Rabobank s/t.Reuse content