Colombia's Tour de France winner Egan Bernal waves as he rides his bike upon his arrival in his hometown Zipaquira, Cundinamarca, Colombia Image copyright AFP

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.

A child plays a vuvuzela at the homecoming party for Egan Bernal Image copyright Reuters

“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.”

Children waited on the town's central square to try and see their new hometown hero Image copyright Reuters

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.

Fans hold a sign that reads "You made millions of hearts shake with happiness. What an example, Egan!" during a tribute to Colombian cyclist Egan Bernal, winner of the Tour de France 2019, at his hometown, Zipaquira, in Cundinamarca, Colombia Image copyright EPA

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.

Colombian cyclist Egan Bernal, winner of the Tour de France 2019, poses with his first coach Fabio Rodriguez (L) during a tribute celebrated at his hometown, Zipaquira, in Cundinamarca, Colombia Image copyright EPA

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

Colombia's Egan Bernal shows the yellow jersey that accredits him as champion of the Tour de France Image copyright Reuters

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

Crowds line the streets of Zipaquira to catch a glimpse of Egan Bernal Image copyright Reuters

“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.”

People make selfies with a mural depicting Colombia's Tour de France winner Egan Bernal after arrival in his hometown Zipaquira, Cundinamarca, Colombia Image copyright AFP

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