Bradley Wiggins all but sealed his place in the Tour de France history books on Saturday after winning the 19th and penultimate stage of this year’s race to retain his leader’s yellow jersey before the finale in Paris.
It was the top two of the overall classification who dominated the day’s 53.5 kilometre individual time trial.
Wiggins’ Sky team mate and fellow Brit Chris Froome was the second-from-last to blast out of the blocks immediately set the tempo but Wiggins soon quashed suggestions his compatriot was the stronger rider on this Tour.
The three-time Olympic track champion was fastest at all of the intermediate check points as he completed the course between Bonneval and Chartres in one hour four minutes and 13 seconds.
He finally made it over the line one minute and 16 seconds faster than Froome and punched the air in delight as winning the 99th edition of the event became an almost sure thing.
Third place on the day went to Rabobank’s Luis León Sánchez, who held the lead for a substantial part of the afternoon but ended almost two minutes down on Wiggins.
Contrasting fortunes for Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia who finished 52nd and suffered the humiliation of being overtaken by young team mate Tejay Van Garderen.
Ahead of the leisurely final 120 kilometre stage 20 to the Champs Élysées 32-year-old Wiggins holds a three minute and 21 second advantage over Froome.
Bar accident on Sunday Wiggins is now set to become the first Briton to win cycling’s most famous race.