The Colombian Nairo Quintana won the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a 65-km mountain trek from Bagneres-de-Luchon.
But the big story was the concession of four-time winner Chris Froome, who cracked 2km from the end of the final climb.
The British rider was hoping to join the likes of Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain and Bernard Hinault, as the only riders in the Tour's history to win the race five times.
Froome said he would now look after his team mate Geraint Thomas in the final days of the Tour de France after losing more time to the yellow jersey holder on Wednesday's stage.
He now trails his fellow Briton by 2:31 with three competitive stages left and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin sandwiched in between them.
Froome, who was also hoping to be the first man in 20 years to achieve a Giro d’Italia-Tour double, has very limited options as he will not be allowed to attack the yellow jersey so close to Paris.
"I think he’s got almost a two-minute lead on Dumoulin, which I think is a pretty comfortable lot," Froome told reporters after finishing 1:35 behind stage 17 winner Quintana and 48 seconds behind Thomas.
"I imagine we’ll be able to finish it off. We’ve just got to look after him now,” he added, seemingly conceding defeat.
“I’ve won the last three Grand Tours and G’s (Thomas) ridden an absolutely faultless race this year, so he fully deserves to be in the yellow jersey, and fingers crossed he finishes it off and gets the job done in Paris.”
Thursday’s 18th stage is a flat route to Pau while Friday’s 19th is a long mountainous trek finishing down the descent from the Col d’Aubisque.
Saturday’s individual time trial will determine the final standings ahead of Sunday’s parade to the Champs-Elysées.