Bradley Wiggins struggled to contain his emotions after moving to the verge of a first British Tour de France win in Paris on Sunday.
Wiggins entered Friday's 222.5-kilometre 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde with a lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with nearest hostile rival Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) third, 2mins 41secs adrift.
"All the way up the last climb I almost had tears in my eyes," said Wiggins, after finishing 18 seconds ahead of Nibali on the 143.5-kilometre 17th stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes.
"The minute we went over the Peyresourde, I pretty much knew that was the climbing done for the Tour and that was an incredible feeling.
"At that point, the first time in this whole Tour since I've led this race, I thought 'maybe I've just won the Tour'.
"That's where everyone said I was at my weakest, in the mountains."
Froome was seen imploring Wiggins to stay with him in the finale.
Some believe Froome could have won the Tour himself, but he knows his role was to support Wiggins.
"I'm 27 and I hope to win the Tour one day," said Froome, after finishing second on the stage to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), with Wiggins third.
"If you had said to me a month before the Tour that with three days to go I would be second I wouldn't have believed you. I'm very happy."