Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins is aiming to all-but confirm his place as the first British winner of the yellow jersey.
The 53.5-kilometre stage 19 time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres was set to provide an opportunity for Wiggins to demonstrate his supreme talent against the clock and enhance his commanding lead in the maillot jaune ahead of the final day on Sunday, which is traditionally a procession to Paris for the Tour leader.
After helping Team Sky colleague Mark Cavendish to victory on stage 18 to Brive-la-Gaillarde, Wiggins opted out of the leader's post-race media duties, saying: "That's why I came straight from the finish just now to warm down for a better performance. That's better than hanging around at the finish just to talk about the weather."
"As soon as we finished the stage we started to concentrate on tomorrow (the time-trial)," he added.
Wiggins played an integral role as Cavendish claimed a 22nd sensational stage win of his remarkable career and a second of the Tour.
Wiggins said: "He's been an incredible team-mate the last couple of weeks. It's nice to be able to pay him back. It's been hard every morning, thinking about the GC (general classification) and maybe sacrificing some sprint stages.
"Nine times out of 10 Cav finishes it off when you do something like that. And once again he showed, if there was any doubt, that he is the fastest man in the world."
Cavendish is set be given a further opportunity on the Champs-Elysees, where he has won in each of the last three years. He is accustomed to victory - he won 20 stages in the four previous Tours - and not used to being at the service of another rider, collecting drinks bottles from the team car as a domestique as Team Sky prioritise Wiggins' overall bid.
"It hasn't been the easiest thing, obviously," Cavendish said. "It can make you hungry for sprints especially when you're used to winning five stages here every year. I'm part of the team, but I'm not doing what I can do as an individual rider."
The performance was a tantalising glimpse of what could unfold on next week's opening day of London 2012 in the 250km road race, when Wiggins will be riding in support of Cavendish. "It can really give me confidence that I've come out of this Tour de France in good enough condition," Cavendish added.