Bernal becomes first Colombian winner of Tour de France

Paris, July 29 (IANS) Egan Bernal has become the first-ever Colombian winner of the Tour de France at the 106th edition of the world's most prestigious road cycling tournament which wrapped up on Champs-Elysees Avenue here.

On Sunday, the 22-year-old rider effectively sealed his title prior to the processional 128km stage starting from Rambouillet. He raised glasses of champagne with Ineos teammates for a celebration shortly on the stage after his win, reports Xinhua news agency.

"It's incredible. I don't know what to say. I've won the Tour but I don't manage to believe it. I need a couple of days to process all this," admitted Bernal, also the tournament's youngest titlist in more a century.

Bernal gained the yellow jersey from Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe in a dramatic manner, as Friday's stage 19 was brought to an early end due to hail storm and riders' time was recorded at the summit of 2,770m-high Col d'Iseran. Bernal kept his overall lead enroute to the Champs-Elysees.

"This is the first Tour for us Colombians. Many Colombians have tried before. We've had great cyclists in the past. But I'm the first one to win the Tour. Colombia deserves it," commented Bernal, who also won the white jersey for the best young rider.

Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky, made it seven wins out of eight years, following those of Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Chris Froome in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and Geraint Thomas in 2018.

Thomas finished runner-up, 1 minute and 11 seconds behind teammate Bernal. Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann of Germany were placed third and fourth respectively.

Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey owner for most days of this Tour, ranked fifth overall, while winning the Combativity award.

Sunday's finale was won by Australia's Caleb Ewan, who claimed three stage victories in Tour debut.

155 of 176 starting riders managed to withstand challenges in the 23-day race.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan won a record seventh sprint green jersey with 316 points, while the polka dot jersey representing the best climber belonged to French rider Romain Bardet with 86 points. Movistar sit atop the overall team standings in 248 hours 58 minutes and 15 seconds.

--IANS

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