"I was a bit worried it might just be my wife and the dog," Geraint Thomas grinned as he received a hero's welcome when he returned to his hometown of Cardiff, Wales, on Thursday, with thousands of people lining the streets.
Speaking outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, Thomas said that the support he'd received from people had been "insane".
"It's bonkers," he said. "It's overwhelming, and I really appreciate the support."
From the estimated 3,000-strong crowd at the Senedd, Thomas then rode through the crowd-lined streets of Cardiff the short distance to Cardiff Castle, where another 5,000 people had gathered to see him, clad in his yellow jersey as the winner of the Tour de France and followed by an entourage of young riders from local cycling clubs.
"I thought it would be harder, actually," Thomas smiled when asked how tough the three-week race had been, eliciting huge cheers from the crowd.
Since his Tour win, it's been a rollercoaster of public appearances and media interviews for the 32-year-old Welshman, who has yet to declare which team he'll be riding for in 2019, although it's expected that he will re-sign with Team Sky.
For now, however, he's enjoying his new-found fame, and the responsibilities that come with that.
"I'm speechless, really," he later told BBC Wales. "Just the amount of people you can inspire. I just remember when I was a kid, and looking up to people. To just have that image of little boys and girls seeing me performing and wanting to do that, and get them out on their bikes... And it's any sport. It's not just about cycling. It's just nuts to be in this position, really."
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