Bradley Wiggins remained on course for a historic Tour de France victory after a scintillating win in the stage 19 53.5km time-trial.
The Team Sky man, a lifelong member of British Cycling, was untouchable as he clocked one hour four minutes and 13 seconds on the Bonneval to Chartres course in the penultimate stage of the Tour, one minute sixteen seconds ahead of second place Chris Froome.
The result means the 32-year-old is three minutes and 21 seconds up on team mate Chris Froome with only tomorrow’s 120km procession into the Champs-Élysées standing between Wiggins and the distinguished honour of becoming the first Briton to win the race.
A second place finish for another British Cycling podium programme rider Chris Froome demonstrated his time-trialling ability and that now looks certain to make it a British 1-2 on the podium.
Speaking after the stage Wiggins said: "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.
"The time-trial is what I do best. Perhaps I'm not the best climber in the race, but I've always been a good time-triallist who gets his weight down and climbs well.
"Today was a superb performance. I really wanted to get out there and finish with a bang. Fortunately I managed to do that.
“From the moment you start cycling as a kid, it's about this. You get into it and everyone dreams of winning the Tour or wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour but to cross the line... well, I kind of summed it up in that punch coming across the line.
"The last 10 or 15 kilometres, I was thinking of everything really: from my childhood to this point, the days I got into cycling as a kid: my family – my mother, my wife and children, my grandfather who died two years ago... and it was all for them really. It was an incredible feeling and it was spurring me on to go harder and harder and harder.
"Some people in sport say, ‘You're in the zone.' But I was in it today in a way that I've never been before.
“This is everything. It's a lifestyle. And I've learned to live this lifestyle these last few years at the sacrifice of so many other things in my life, including the people around me who live with me and know me. This is as much because of their sacrifice and it's huge.
“The British flags out there on the roadside... it's bloody humbling. You just think, ‘Why me?' in a way. Just seeing the happiness of everyone out there today was an incredible feeling.
“The reason I feel like this is because I have a sense of what I've achieved because I know my cycling and I can't really sum it up in articulate terms. What happened out there is just incredible!"
Team manager Dave Brailsford added: "It was amazing and it's been an amazing tour," Brailsford said on Eurosport.
"It's not been a surprise. Let's take nothing away from Bradley. He's had an amazing tour and what better way to demonstrate that he's the best in the race?
"As we know, we are lucky to have Chris and Bradley in the same team. But this was a tour that suited Bradley, he's climbing well and his time trials are off the scale. That shows why we stuck with Bradley."
Wiggins 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 Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank).
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 victory of this year's race in addition to their yellow jersey exploits.
Stage 19 result
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 1:04:13
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:16
3. Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:50
4. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:02:02
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:02:25
6. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos - Shimano 0:02:28
7. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:34
8. Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:02:46
9. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:02:50
10. Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:03:05
General classification after stage 19
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 84:26:31
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:19
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:10:15
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:04
6. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:15:43
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:15:51
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:16:31
9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:16:38
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:17:17