Bernal celebrates emotional Tour de France victory with family on the Champs-Elysees
'I'm the happiest guy in the world' Colombian says in multiple-language podium speech
Egan Bernal (Ineos) became Colombia's first-ever winner of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées in a hugely emotional moment for the 22-year-old rider, his family, his team and his nation.
The early part of the finale stage 21 started with a series of on-bike celebrations between Bernal and his teammates. It was a special moment when Bernal and the other three Colombians in the race; Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) drew ahead briefly of the rest of the field for the TV cameras. Bernal's celebrations continued as the race roared onto the Champs-Élysées, making a victory 'V' sign at the television cameras with 20 kilometres to go.
As he crossed the finish line, safely in the pack in 29th place, he celebrated with his Team Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas, last year's winner and this year's runner-up. There was then a lengthy and emotional round of hugs and tears of joy between him and his family.
Bernal then stepped three times onto the winner's podium. He collected the white jersey of the Best Young Rider and was then awarded with his final yellow jersey. Lastly, he stood alongside Thomas and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) in third, as he was crowned the winner of the 2019 Tour de France.
As the Colombian national anthem rang out for the first time on the Champs-Élysées, Bernal sang alongside. He then gave one last full bow to the crowd on the world-famous Parisian boulevard. He stood on the podium in front of thousands of cheering, flag-waving Colombians - before taking the microphone for the traditional overall winner's speech.
Bernal was gracious to his supporters and offered his speech in four languages: English, Italian, French and Spanish - all in the space of 90 seconds.
"I think that I should say thanks to all my team," Bernal began in English - appropriately enough given the team's nationality. "Thank you G [Geraint Thomas] for the opportunity and all the team for the support and believing in me. I think today I'm the happiest guy in the world.
"I have just won the Tour de France; I can't believe it."
"Grazie Italia," Bernal then continued, in a nod towards his formative years in Italy, where he raced for two years with the Professional Continental Androni Giocattoli squad. "I think I've got a bit of ltaly in my heart," he said in Italian.
He then rapidly thanked his Colombian fans in Spanish, promising them "more wins in the future."
Finally, Bernal rounded off his a quick-fire multi-lingual speech in French. "Thank you for organising the most beautiful course in the world and for [giving me] the most beautiful win of my life.
"Merci France; Vive la Colombie," he concluded to yet more cheers from the many Colombian fans who had flocked to Paris to celebrate their first ever Tour de France victory.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.
By Jackie Tyson