As expected Tony Martin won the Stage 20 individual time trial of the Tour de France in dominating style as overall leader Vincenzo Nibali finished fourth to all but secure his first yellow jersey.
Martin finished ahead of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) and Jan Barta (NetApp) on the 54km course from Bergerac to Périgueux.
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished a solid fourth to hold his position ahead of French riders Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) who swapped their earlier positions on the general classification.
“It's an enormous satisfaction,” said Peraud. “The withdrawals of Froome and Contador opened a range of possibilities and I started dreaming about this second place.
“I’m happy to have achieved that goal. I have a feeling of mission accomplished and a lot of joy today.”
It will be the first time since Richard Virenque in 1997 that any French rider has made the Tour podium.
Not long after the first starter and "lanterne rouge" Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) completed his run, Danny Pate (Sky) set the first benchmark. His average speed of 46.7km/h gave him a finishing time of 1hr 9min 22sec.
Barta was the next rider to sit in the hot seat after bettering Pate's time by 1min 14sec.
Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing) and Daniel Oss (BMC) then slotted in behind Barta as Martin blasted through the time checks at 19km, 39km and 48km with an increasing margin.
Martin, a three-time world time trial champion, crossed the finish line in a time of 1hr 6min 21sec at an average speed of 48.8km/h to lead Barta by a whopping 1min 48sec.
Once Martin was established as the stage leader the wait was on for a decision on the final positions on the general classification.
"I was under pressure. Everyone expected me to win," said Martin.
"But honestly, it's a bit like that before all the time trials. I've learnt how to deal with this kind of pressure. Especially after my stage win in Mulhouse, I wasn't in the same situation as if all the Tour de France was to be win or lost today.
"But a lot of guys couldn't start today, I'm referring to the other two top specialists for time trial, Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara. I had a really good race today. I was happy when I saw the course. I still had the power after three weeks so it would have been hard for anyone to fight against me.
"After Mark Cavendish's crash in stage 1, we were all devastated in the team. But we've found the strength and motivation for working together and we delivered great results. We can be proud of our stage wins."
But before the top five riders on the general classification finished their runs, Dumoulin slotted into second place behind Martin, pushing Barta into third.
While the top three for the stage was settled, the battle for the minor placings on the general classification came down to a matter of seconds.
Pinot started the day second but was only 13sec ahead of Peraud and 15sec ahead of Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde.
But by the first time check it was obvious Valverde wasn't having a good day as he had lost 43sec to Pinot and more than a minute to Peraud.
Pinot was supposed to be the weakest of the three but he put in a strong performance to finish 12th on the stage and secure third place overall.
Peraud, 37, had a scare after 33km when he punctured but by the end he had finished 44sec quicker than Pinot to claim second.
But there was disappointment for AG2R's Romain Bardet, who lost fifth place by 2sec to Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) after puncturing like his team-mate Peraud.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the best of the Australians at 3min 38sec behind Martin.
For Nibali, all that lies between him and the 2014 Tour de France title is a 137km ride to Paris.
"I'm very happy," said Nibali.
"I've felt a bit of tension today but it's normal I guess. I wanted to do well in this time trial. It wasn't an easy course. It was a perfect one for specialists like Tony Martin. I was looking forward to reach the finish. It required a big effort to ride the course. I'm pleased to have set the fourth best time.
"I haven't realised yet how big it is to win the Tour de France. I'll keep that for tomorrow. It's difficult to ride the Tour but the beauty of it is to cycle on the Champs-Elysées. That's the biggest memory I've kept from my first participation: the lap of honour, the enormous number of people, Paris' monuments... I'll try to savour my victory as much as I can. Every moment will count."
Stage 20: 54km ITT, Bergerac to Périgueux
1 Tony Martin (GER) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 1hr 6min 21sec
2 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Shimano 0:01:39
3 Jan Barta (CZE) NetApp 0:01:47
4 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Astana 0:01:58
5 Leopold Konig (CZE) NetApp 0:02:02
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 0:02:08
7 Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA) AG2R 0:02:27
8 Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) IAM 0:02:36
9 Markel Irizar (ESP) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:39
10 Daniel Oss (ITA) BMC 0:02:58
1 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Astana 86hr 37min 52sec
2 Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA) AG2R 0:07:52
3 Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ.fr 0:08:24
4 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar 0:09:55
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC 0:11:44
6 Romain Bardet (FRA) AG2R 0:11:46
7 Leopold Konig (CZE) NetApp 0:14:41
8 Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) Trek Factory Racing 0:18:12
9 Laurens Ten Dam (NED) Belkin 0:18:20
10 Bauke Mollema (NED) Belkin 0:21:24
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