Tadej Pogacar took another giant leap towards defending his Tour de France title with victory up the Col du Portet on stage 17.
The UAE Team Emirates rider benefited from excellent work by his team-mates on the brutal 178.4 kilometre route, which started in Muret.
Rafal Majka in particular was worthy of great praise in aiding the cause of Pogacar, setting the Slovenian up brilliantly to push for the stage win on the final hors categorie climb.
Anthony Perez, the lone man remaining from the breakaway, was reeled in on the last of the three ascents with 8.5km remaining.
It was Pogacar, Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, who emerged as the frontrunners for the stage.
Despite dealing with gradients of 13 per cent, Pogacar always looked comfortable and there was never any doubt he would respond when Carapaz attacked 1.5km from a finish 2,215km above sea level, the highest of this year's Tour de France.
There was an element of surprise to that move, Carapaz having done little to help Pogacar and Vingegaard manage the climb while looking on the verge of being dropped.
But Pogacar called his bluff and it was he who clearly had the most left in the tank, surging clear in the final 200 metres to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour.
His lead at the top of the general classification stands at five minutes and 39 seconds from Vingegaard with three stages left before the final processional ride to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:04
4. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +:1:19
5. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +1:26
1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:43
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 287
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 251
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 201
King of the Mountains
1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 78
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 67
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 66
Does Pogacar have enough left in his legs for another hors categorie finish. The penultimate and final ascents are on the 129.7km ride from Pau to Luz Ardiden are each HC climbs as the Tour sees it's final mountain stage of 2021.
Given his lead in the GC, Pogacar does not need to make such an effort, but he might have the appetite for another win to emphasise his dominance on stage 18.