Egan Bernal stands on the verge of Giro d'Italia glory after surviving the penultimate stage, a brutal mountain slog, with almost a two-minute advantage to take into the closing time trial in Milan.
Damiano Caruso, Bernal's closest challenger in the general classification, celebrated a fine stage victory in the 20th stage on Saturday, a 163-kilometre ride from Valle Spluga to Alpe Motta, for his first individual grand tour stage win.
It increased his hold on a surprise second place, ahead of Team BikeExchange's Simon Yates - but victory by 24 seconds was not the sort of margin needed for the Australian team's leader to shake Ineos Grenadiers rider Bernal
Yates, who had taken almost 90 seconds out of Bernal's lead in the last three days, could make no further impact as he lost the Colombian's wheel two kilometres from the summit of the final climb of the Alpe Motta, conceding 27 seconds in the process.
That leaves the Briton one minute 24 seconds behind Caruso as he now looks likely to settle for third place overall.
Although there are 30 flat kilometres still to negotiate, with a lead of one minute 59 seconds few will now bet against Bernal adding Giro glory to the Tour de France title he took in 2019, further confirmation of the 24-year-old's prodigious talent.
"I'm satisfied with the result," Bernal said. "I think we managed well the situation finally.
"We have two minutes of an advantage for tomorrow's time trial so I think we are in a good position.
"It's not the best to have the rider second in GC in front you by almost one minute but having three teammates, I tried to use them to arrive as fresh as possible into the last climb and also tomorrow.
"I think we did well, but it was difficult to manage the situation."
A Bernal win would also deliver a second consecutive Giro title for the Grenadiers after Tao Geoghegan Hart's win, when he pipped Australian Jai Hindley, last October.
Though all eyes were on Yates after his recent exploits, it was Caruso who tried his hand.
The 33-year-old came to the race as a domestique for Mikel Landa, but since the Spaniard's stage five crash, Caruso has grasped his opportunity to lead the team and ride his way onto the podium.
His attack would certainly have worried Bernal as a 10-man group formed and built an advantage of around 50 seconds.
But, gradually, the group whittled down before Caruso's Bahrain-Victorious teammate Pello Bilbao pulled off with 6.5km to go, leaving him alone with Romain Bardet.
The Frenchman proved unable to offer much help however, allowing Bernal to slowly ride his way back at a pace which proved too much for Yates.
A stage victory in his home grand tour was no mere consolation for Caruso, who has enjoyed a race beyond his wildest expectations.
"I thought about a thousand things in the last metre before the finish line," Caruso said.
"All my sacrifices, my training, and all the work done by my teammates.
"Today, I realised a dream. I think I am the happiest man in the world!"