Paris - Egan Bernal clinched victory in the Tour de France on Sunday, parading into Paris safely in the overall leader's yellow jersey, becoming the first Colombian winner of cycling's greatest prize and its youngest in more than a century.
With the sun setting behind the Arc de Triomphe, the 22-year-old Ineos rider completed the 21 stage, 3 409km marathon around France 1:10 ahead of 2018 champion and team-mate Geraint Thomas.
Colombian spectators thronged the Champs Elysees to witness the traditional eight-lap finale, where Australia's Caleb Ewan, also 22, won his third stage of the 2019 edition on the culminating mass bunch sprint.
The champion was welcomed by his younger brother Ronald, his parents and girlfriend, before embracing his teammates.
"I thank France for organising the best race in the world, and for organising my greatest victory," Bernal said in French.
"This is the Tour, this is the Tour, there is nothing more important than the Tour de France and I want to take this jersey back to Colombia," he said, switching back to Spanish.
"I simply can't believe I have won it," said the tearful Bernal before stepping onto the winners podium alongside Thomas and third placed Dutch Jumbo rider Steven Kruijswijk.
The stage itself was won in a hotly contested mass bunch sprint by Australian speed king Caleb Ewan, his third win on his debut Tour.
"This was the best one by far," said the smiley racer.
The highest Tour in history, as it was billed, suited Bernal, who grew up at 2600m altitude and who thrived on a course featuring seven mountain stages and five summit finishes, scampering away from his closest rivals.
He had to weather a searing four-day heatwave that saw runner up Thomas wobble in Pau and was warned by a speeding motorbike when racing downhill at 100kph when a freak hail storm caused a mudslide ahead.
That was Friday when he clinched the overall lead from French hero, the daring Julian Alaphilippe who had set the thrilling tone of this Tour with a dashing 14 day tenure in yellow.
"It was an honour, it was my duty, it was unforgettable," Alaphilippe said on Sunday after missing out on becoming France's first winner of the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
Alaphilippe won two stages, the first a rampage through the Champagne region that set the tone for the Tour, and the second a stunning time-trial win at Pau.
He was awarded the combativity award on Sunday for the most attacking rider and came fifth in the overall standings and when stepping off the podium went over to his wheelchair-bound father and cried in his arms.
He finally lost his lead after two of three Alpine stages where the final real action played out, before Bernal defended it Saturday on a long 33km climb to the Val Thorens ski-resort, itself shortened because of storms and mudslides.
France also won the King of the Mountains jersey with Romain Bardet, who appeared early in the Tour to have flopped, but rallied to win the dotted jersey and regain his smile.
On the traditional non-contested procession to Paris, the Ineos team were all wearing a yellow trim to their claret and black outfits, with even the team car sporting a yellow stripe to honour the eight-man team who had sacrificing personal gain for the Colombian's title.
Charismatic Slovak star Peter Sagan won a record seventh green points jersey without adding to his 12 stage wins, but brought more drama relentlessly and missed out on the yellow jersey on stage one by a photo-finish.
"That's seven, maybe eight next year," said the three time former world champion.
Tour de France 21st and final stage results on Sunday from Rambouillet to Paris:
1. Caleb Ewan (AUS/LOT) 3 h 04:08, 2. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/JUM) at 0, 3. Niccolò Bonifazio (ITA/TDE) 0, 4. Maximiliano Richeze (ARG/DEC) 0, 5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 0, 6. André Greipel (GER/ARK) 0, 7. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MIT) 0, 8. Jasper Stuyven (BEL/TRE) 0, 9. Nikias Arndt (GER/SUN) 0, 10. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 0, 11. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAH) 0, 12. Marco Haller (AUT/KAT) 0, 13. Andrea Pasqualon (ITA/WGG) 0, 14. Julien Simon (FRA/COF) 0, 15. Hugo Houle (CAN/AST) 0, 16. Jens Debusschere (BEL/KAT) 0, 17. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0, 18. Elia Viviani (ITA/DEC) 0, 19. William Bonnet (FRA/FDJ) 0, 20. Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR/UAE) 0.
29. Egan Bernal (COL/INE) 0, 30. Geraint Thomas (GBR/INE) 0, 36. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/JUM) 0, 38. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0, 67. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/DEC) 20
Tour de France overall standings after Sunday's 21st and final stage from Rambouillet to Paris:
1. Egan Bernal (COL/Ineos) 82 h 57:00, 2. Geraint Thomas
(GBR/INE) at 1:11, 3. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/JUM) 1:31, 4. Emanuel
Buchmann (GER/BOR) 1:56, 5. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/DEC) 4:05, 6. Mikel
Landa (ESP/MOV) 4:23, 7. Rigoberto Uran (COL/EF1) 5:15, 8. Nairo
Quintana (COL/MOV) 5:30, 9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 6:12, 10.
Warren Barguil (FRA/ARK) 7:32, 11. Richie Porte (AUS/TRE) 12:43, 12.
Guillaume Martin (FRA/WGG) 22:08, 13. David Gaudu (FRA/FDJ) 24:03, 14.
Fabio Aru (ITA/UAE) 27:41, 15. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 30:28, 16. Roman
Kreuziger (CZE/DDT) 36:09, 17. Sébastien Reichenbach (SUI/FDJ) 44:29,
18. Daniel Martin (IRL/UAE) 45:21, 19. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/AST) 48:52,
20. Jesus Herrada (ESP/COF) 51:57.
29. Adam Yates (GBR/MIT) 1 h 16:50, 39. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 1 h
37:02, 49. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 1 h 53:54, 72. Daryl Impey (RSA/MIT) 2
h 24:58, 76. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 2 h 28:19, 82. Peter Sagan
(SVK/BOR) 2 h 44:24, 132. Caleb Ewan (AUS/LOT) 3 h 54:34, 144. André
Greipel (GER/ARK) 4 h 07:00.
Class winners in the 2019 Tour de France:
General classification yellow jersey: Egan Bernal (COL/Ineos)
Green sprint points jersey: Peter Sagan (SVK/Bora)
Polka dot 'King of the Mountain' points jersey: Romain Bardet (FRA/AG2R La Mondiale)
White under-25 jersey: Egan Bernal
Combativity: Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Deceuninck)
Factfile on Egan Bernal, who won the 106th edition of the Tour de France on Sunday:
Name: Egan Bernal
Date of birth: January 13, 1997 (22 years old)
Place of birth: Zipaquira, Colombia
Height: 1.75 m
Teams: Androni (2016-17), Sky/Ineos (since 2018)
Tour de France overall (2019); Tour de France best rider under 25 (2019)
Colombian time-trial championship (2018)
Tour de Suisse (2019)
Tour of Colombia (2018)
Tour of California (2018)
Tour de l'Avenir (2017)
Other Grand Tour participations:
2018 Tour de France: 15th