Chris Froome has spent three weeks battling the toughest terrain in sport but he admits he's finding it harder to battle his emotions.
Froome effectively sealed his second Tour de France title after a testing day on the penultimate stage at Alpe-d'Huez, nearest rival Nairo Quintana attacking, attacking and attacking again on the punishing final climb of the race.
But Froome doggedly held on and will carry a decisive one minute and 12 second advantage into Sunday's final stage, a processional run into Paris that will be at the mercy of the sprinters, including Britain's Mark Cavendish.
"It's unreal. I'm sure I haven't quite taken it all on board yet. It's an unbelievable feeling to be sitting here still wearing this jersey," said Froome, who also secured the polka dot jersey for best climber in the race, the first time a British rider has claimed that classification since Robert Millar in 1984.
"I can't quite come to terms with it just yet, there are so many emotions were going through my mind during that last climb.
"There were thoughts of all the sacrifices, weeks of training camps, time away from my wife and family. It all goes through your head.
"I was on my limits there. "That was only 110km but it felt like 300km, it was such a hard stage. I was hurting going up that last climb but I had to find something else to keep pushing and get through to the end."
Froome's achievement means British cyclists have won their sport's most storied race for three of the last four editions - which left Team Sky principle Sir David Brailsford equally emotional.
"Chris has shown real mettle and what he is all about in this race, he's a true champion. Britain doesn't have many champions like this fella," he said.
"I don't think many people get to see what we see every day. He's a deserved winner and a credit to Britain.
"Chris is the most unbelievable competitor and polite, nice guy off the bike but on the bike he's the most resilient character.
"I don't think I've ever met anybody like him. He's perfect for the job, as it were. He deserves more credit than he gets."
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