Bradley Wiggins is set to become the first British winner of the Tour de France after an imperious victory in the stage 19 time-trial to Chartres.
In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.
Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion, began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into the final day.
Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.
Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, with the final stage effectively a procession to the finish on the Champs-Elysees.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contention on Saturday. The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, and fall 6:19 adrift overall.
The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.
Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a clean British rider within five years - it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.
Froome is also on the verge of history - no Briton has finished on the Tour podium in 98 previous editions, with Wiggins' 2009 fourth place equalling Robert Millar's 1984 best. Now there are set to be two.
The last time two riders from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was 1984, when Laurent Fignon finished ahead of Bernard Hinault.
Hinault's second place two years later behind Greg LeMond was the most recent time two team-mates held the top two positions in Paris.
Wiggins has been in stunning form this season, winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races, and has carried his form into the Tour, which featured more than 100km against the clock.
He was second in the Tour's prologue on July 30 in Liege and has remained in the top two of the general classification since, taking the maillot jaune on stage seven and winning stage nine and today's penultimate stage.
Wiggins, wearing the maillot jaune for a 12th day, was the last of 153-strong peloton to roll down the starting ramp to begin a route south-west of Paris where there was a large British presence, with Union Flags heavily in evidence.
Louis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) began 88th and finished the route in 1.06:03 to be the early leader.
Wiggins was focused as he rolled down the start ramp into a familiar domain - against the clock - and assumed his time-trial position, a still upper body, legs pumping like pistons.
At the first time check, after 14km, Froome was fastest in 17:01, but Wiggins went 12 seconds quicker still.
Froome kept the pace up to lead at the second time check, after 30km, in 37:35, but again Wiggins was faster - this time by 54 seconds, in 36:41.
Froome and Wiggins maintained their remarkable pace in the final third of the route. Froome overhauled Sanchez to claim the fastest time but Wiggins, who began three minutes behind his team-mate, soon bettered it, leaving the Spaniard third on the stage.
Wiggins punched the air in delight as he crossed the line, knowing a lifelong goal is set to be achieved in 24 hours' time.
As well as being the display which all but secured the yellow jersey, Wiggins' was a performance which augured well for the Olympic time-trial on August 1, although some of his Hampton Court rivals were absent on Saturday.
Briton David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) completed the course in 1.10:35, Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) in 1.11:11 and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) in 1.12:04.
Cavendish, who won stages two and 18, will be seeking to complete a stunning Tour for Britain on Sunday's processional stage, usually contested by the sprinters.
The 27-year-old Manxman has completed the Tour three times and won on the Champs-Elysees on each occasion - in 2009, 2010 and 2011 - and it is likely Wiggins will be seen leading out Cavendish on the French capital's most famous boulevard.
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