Sestriere - Alberto Contador was virtually assured of winning the Giro d'Italia for a second time after surviving attacks on Saturday's summit finish to keep an unassailable lead on his nearest rival Fabio Aru who won the stage.
It was a second straight stage win for 24-year-old Italian Aru, who along with teammate and third placed overall Mikel Landa launched a desperate bid to dislodge Contador on the penultimate dirt-road climb.
But now Sunday's flat 185km ride into Milan means that barring catastrophe Spaniard Contador will roll over the finish line over two minutes ahead of Aru, adding to a first title he won there in 2008.
Current holder of the Tour of Spain title, Contador is aiming to become the first rider since the now deceased Italian Marco Pantani to achieve the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double in the same calendar year.
The 199km penultimate stage slog from Saint Vincent to Sestriere, featured an 8km brutal climb up the dirt roads of the Colle delle Finestre, where Astana pair Landa and Aru launched their thrilling attacks.
But Contador kept his cool to allow the pair and others to climb away from him, eventually levelling out to cross the mist shrouded summit where banks of snow still clung to the rocky slopes only a minute behind then race leader Landa.
Before the final climb Aru caught up with Landa before launching a series of attacks with 2km to go and crossed the finish line 18sec ahead of Canada's Ryder Hesjedal.
Colombia's Rigoberto Uran was third and Landa fourth just 24 seconds adrift.
But by this time all eyes were counting down the clock with Contador continually punching the air as he closed in on the finish line at Sestrieres knowing the title was his.
Astana's young leader Aru is second in the overall at 2min 02sec, with his teammate Landa third at 3min 14sec and the trio should still be in that order when the tour ends Sunday evening.
Sardinian Aru had seen his bid for overall victory steadily tamed by the superiority of Contador after the race moved upwards into the high mountains earlier this week.
Leading results from stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday a 199km run from Saint Vincent to a summit finish at Sestriere:
Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 5hrs 12min 25sec, 2. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/CAN) at
18sec, 3. Rigoberto Uran (COL/ETI) 24, 4. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) 24, 5.
Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 34, 6. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 2:25, 7.
Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 2:28, 8. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 2:28, 9.
Leopold Konig (CZE/SKY) 2:28, 10. Diego Rosa (ITA/AST) 2:28.
Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 84hrs 03min 30sec, 2. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) at
2min 02sec, 3. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) 3:14. 4. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV)
8:19, 5. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/CAN) 9:52, 6. Leopold Konig (CZE/SKY)
10:50, 7. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 11:02, 8. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC)
12:17, 9. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ) 16:00, 10. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT)