Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins all but confirmed an historic Tour de France victory in the best possible style as he powered to an emphatic win in the penultimate stage time trial.
The 32-year-old underlined his superiority over all his rivals with another sublime display in the 'race of truth', stopping the clock in one hour, four minutes and 13 seconds for the 53.5-kilometre route from Bonneval to Chartres.
That was fully one minute and 16 seconds faster than team-mate Chris Froome who took second on the day to match the position at the top of the general classification. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) was 1:50 back in third while Team Sky's Richie Porte was fifth.
It means Wiggins goes into Sunday's largely processional stage into Paris with a huge advantage at the top of those standings - 3:21 over Froome and 6:19 over third-placed Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Wiggins now has 24 hours to wait to be crowned the first British winner of the Tour de France while Team Sky's dominance is set to be rewarded with a famous 1-2.
"It’s what I wanted to do - I wanted to go out with a bang," said Wiggins after his outstanding display. "The Tour’s not over until now really.
"53km is a long way but it’s what I do best. I came out in March and looked at this course with Sean [Yates, Team Sky Sports Director]. I felt fantastic out there. The first pedal stroke in the warm-up I normally know whether I’m on it or not. I knew today the minute I rolled off that ramp that I was on a good one."
Wiggins, who crashed out of the 2011 Tour with a broken collarbone as Cadel Evans triumphed, said: "It's the Tour. It doesn't get much bigger than this. You couldn't write a better script. What a way to finish.
"I wouldn't say it was a lap of honour, because it hurt, but I just wanted to finish the job off in style.
"There was a lot of emotion in the last 10k. Everything was going through my mind.
"All the years of getting to this point, my family, disappointments, crashing out the Tour last year, watching Cadel in this very position a year ago in Grenoble. I always imagined what that would feel like and now I know.
"I was thinking about my wife and children, my grandfather, my nan, my mother. That was just spurring me on with every pedal stroke.
"It sounds cheesy but you work your whole life to get to this point – it’s a defining moment in your life. From the minute I got into cycling as a kid it’s all summed up for today."
Saving the best until last
Wiggins, who has been in the leader's yellow jersey since stage seven and also won the stage nine time trial, was the last man of the 153 remaining riders down the starting ramp.
And he stamped his authority on the day early on - knocking 12 seconds off Froome's time at the first intermediate check after 14km.
Froome had set that just three minutes earlier to overhaul the earlier target of Sanchez.
And the gap just got bigger and bigger - at the second check, after 30.5km, Wiggins was fully 54 seconds in front of Froome and then 1:15 at the third mark.
Team Sky will now bid to end a phenomenal three weeks with a final flourish in the 120km final stage from Rambouillet to Paris.
For world champion Mark Cavendish is seeking a fourth successive victory on the Champs-Elysees - which would be his third and Team Sky's sixth stage success of this year's race in addition to their yellow jersey exploits.
Team Principal Dave Brailsford was understandably proud of his team's achievement, saying: "It was an amazing result and it’s been an amazing Tour for us. I don’t think it came as any surprise as long as the guys stayed on their bikes today they were going to come first and second. It went to plan.
"Bradley's had an amazing race and what a way to demonstrate he is the best rider in the race by finishing with a time trial like that. I'm incredibly proud of both him and Chris as well as every single person in the team.
"It's never been done before by a British rider, or by a British team - it's a very special day."
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