MELBOURNE (AFP) - Tour de France champion Cadel Evans said he was overwhelmed by the welcome from thousands of cheering fans who lined the streets of Melbourne for his homecoming victory parade on Friday. The 34-year-old arrived back in the city on Thursday for the first time since fulfilling his lifelong quest by securing the ultimate cycling prize last month. Pedalling slowly down the city's St Kilda Road, Evans, wearing his winner's yellow jersey, zig-zagged across the street, shaking hands with flag-waving fans, before a ceremony at a packed Federation Square. "I could say overwhelmed, but that'd be the understatement of this month at least," he said when asked how we felt about the reception. "Thank you, each and every one of you, thank you, thank you so, so much. It's an honour to be here today." Evans' win, the first by an Australian, was hailed here as one of the country's finest ever sporting achievements, ranking alongside Rod Laver's tennis exploits and their America's Cup yachting triumph. While revelling in the celebrations, Evans said he was already focused on defending his title next year. "It was great to shake everyone's hands, but the tour is just 11 months away, I've got some work ahead," he said.