Tour de France champion gets homecoming fiesta in Colombia

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Thousands of screaming fans held a victory party for Tour de France champion Egan Bernal in his Colombian hometown on Wednesday, celebrating the first Latin American to win cycling’s most prestigious race.

Bernal rode his bike into the central square of Zipaquira wearing the Tour de France’s iconic yellow jersey while some 3,000 supporters dressed in the same color chanted his name.

The 22-year-old won the Tour last month ahead of Ineos teammate and defending champion Gearing Thomas, becoming the youngest rider to win the race since World War II.

Bernal’s victory has been widely celebrated in Colombia, which has produced several world-class riders but had never won the Tour.

As Bernal flew home from Europe, a Colombian airline crew spotted him on their plane and celebrated his presence with a toast and free champagne for passengers. Then he was flown in a helicopter to his hometown of Zipaquira, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) outside Bogota, Colombia’s capital.

“If someone would’ve come to my neighborhood a few years ago and told me I was going to win the Tour de France, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Bernal said on a stage set up for the party that was decorated in yellow, with fresh flowers arranged in the shape of a bicycle. “Today I feel very proud to be Colombian and bring the yellow jersey home.”

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