Alberto Contador was thankful for his reception as he bowed out of professional cycling in a "magical day" on the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday.
Contador, one of the all-time greats having won seven Grand Tours to take his place as one of just six riders to win all three, took victory in the penultimate stage of the Vuelta before bringing the curtain down on his illustrious career in his home city of Madrid.
The 34-year-old sipped champagne at the head of the peloton before leading the bunch into the capital, basking in a tremendous welcome from his adoring fans.
"The reception that I got here in Madrid has been spectacular. It has been a magical day for me, a day that I will always remember. To enter Madrid on my own is a dream come true," said Contador after being presented with the award for the race's most combative rider.
"I'm really very happy, it has been impressive. We rode through many of the roads that I know and I could see all the public showing me their love."
Contador thanked the fans with a lap of honour alongside his Trek-Segafredo team-mates, which he felt afforded him a perfect goodbye.
"It has been an incredible day, a beautiful Vuelta," said the Spaniard.
"When I started riding my bike I had three dreams: the first was to become a professional, the second was to ride the Tour de France and the third was to win it. Now I've realised that a fourth dream was to say goodbye in this way.
"These have been three incredible weeks and a special year with my team Trek-Segafredo.
"From now on I will see cycling from the outside, but I hope people remember with love some of the stages that we have experienced."