Egan Bernal clinched victory in the Tour de France on Sunday, becoming the first Colombian winner of cycling’s greatest prize and its youngest in more than a century.
With the sun setting behind the Arc de Triomphe, the 22-year-old Ineos rider completed the 21 stage, 3,409km marathon around France 1min 10sec ahead of 2018 champion and teammate Geraint Thomas.
Colombian spectators thronged the Champs Elysees to witness the traditional eight-lap finale, where Australia’s Caleb Ewan, also 22, won his third stage of the 2019 edition on the culminating mass bunch sprint.
The champion was welcomed by his younger brother Ronald, his parents and girlfriend, Xiomy Guerrero before embracing his teammates.
“I thank France for organising the best race in the world, and for organising my greatest victory,” Bernal said in French.
“I simply can’t believe I have won it,” said the tearful Bernal before stepping onto the winners podium alongside Thomas and third-placed Dutch Jumbo team rider Steven Kruijswijk.
— Le Tour de France UK (@letour_uk) July 28, 2019
Bernal placed his hand on his heart and sang along with the national anthem before addressing the massed crowds in four languages.
“I should say thanks to all my team thank you ‘G’ (Thomas) for the opportunity,” said the youngster in recognition of Thomas’ acceptance that Bernal was the better option for Ineos in the Alps.
“Today I am the most happy guy in the world. I just won the Tour de France,” he said
“Vive la France, Vive la Colombie,” he added in French.