Tour de France champion Egan Bernal given hero’s welcome in Colombia

Cycling

The Colombian city of Zipaquirá has welcomed home local hero Egan Bernal, 10 days after he won the Tour de France.

Last month the 22-year-old became the first Colombian to win cycling’s most prestigious race – and its youngest champion in 110 years.

Thousands of people gathered in the town’s central square as early as 05:00.

His return also coincided with a national holiday – the 200th anniversary of Colombia’s victory against Spain in the Battle of Boyacá.

“I’ll never forget seeing so many people gathered for me,” Bernal told his fans.

“When I see you there, I’m only just starting to realise what this meant for Colombia.

“It makes me very proud to be able to give something to society and to give Colombia hope.”

Bernal landed in the capital, Bogotá, on Monday. He had been competing in a series of shorter races in Europe that followed his Tour de France win.

He turned down the offer of a parade through Zipaquirá, opting instead for a more modest stage in the town’s central square.

There, he paid tribute to his first coach Fabio Rodriguez, and showed his white jersey – won for being the best young rider in the Tour.

Bernal also held up his yellow jersey worn by Tour de France champions.

He donated his yellow jersey to the Colombian Cycling Federation, and gave his white one to Mr Rodriguez.

“It was my dream to win the Tour de France, and now I’ve done it,” Bernal said. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to win it again.”

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