Chris Froome put in an emphatic ride on the stage 20 time trial to all but secure a magnificent fourth Tour de France title.
The Team Sky rider immediately began to put time into his rivals across the 22.5-kilometre course in Marseille, eventually powering to third place on the day, and extending his lead out to a convincing 54 seconds.
With now only the largely ceremonial run into Paris separating Froome from another landmark success, he stands on the brink of even more history on the Champs-Elysees.
It was a memorable day for Team Sky, with Mikel Landa securing fourth place overall, a single tantalising second off the overall podium. It was equally close for the stage win in the Stade Velodrome, with Michal Kwiatkowski also just one second off victory in the time trial. The Polish champion finished just behind compatriot Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), with Froome coming in five seconds further back.
Froome crossed the line moments behind chief rival Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who dropped to third place on the day, 2:20 behind the maillot jaune. Despite a brief crash on the penultimate corner, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) was able to elevate himself into second place overall.
Team Sky also wrapped up the Team Classification in convincing fashion after three weeks, having maintained the lead, along with yellow helmets and numbers, throughout the entire race.
“It’s an amazing feeling and atmosphere in this stadium,” said Froome after stepping off the podium.
“Three weeks of racing has almost come to an end and obviously we have to get to Paris tomorrow, but it’s an amazing feeling.
“It was tough, there were just a 1000 ‘what ifs’ and things that potentially could go wrong and trying to think of all the different scenarios so it was certainly not an easy one coming into today with it being so close.
“It just feels incredible.”
Froome also reserved praise for team-mate Landa, who came so close to joining him on the overall podium in Paris.
“That’s [missing out] really tough for him.
“I think that if anything it shows that he’s definitely capable of being on this Tour de France podium and I imagine that will just give him even more motivation in future.”
Team Sky Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford was a happy man at the finish and highlighted the winning personality of Froome, who stands on the brink of a fifth Tour.
He told ITV4: “From a personality point of view, when you first meet Chris, he’s a very polite guy and he comes across as a really nice, gentle guy.
“And then something will happen down the line and you see this sort of steel.
“When he’s not having a good day or something happens. He’s one of the guys who can just turn himself inside out and you can’t shake him off.
“The moment of the race for me was when he had his mechanical [stage 15] and he had to get back on or he was losing the race.
“Not many people I don’t think could have done what he did [on stage 15] he might not have won a stage, but when you watch that you think ’that was some performance.’”
Stage 20 result:
1. Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) 28:15 2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +1″
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +6″
4. Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) +14″
5. Daryl Impey Orica-Scott) +20″
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 83:55:16
2. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +54″
3. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +2:20″ 4. Mikel Landa (Team Sky) +2:21″
5. Fabio Aru (Astana) +3:05″