Chris Froome took a major step towards Tour de France victory by extending his overall lead with a blistering display on stage 11's time trial.
The 28-year-old Briton finished second on the day, 12 seconds down on world time trial champion Tony Martin, but more than two minutes ahead of general classification rivals Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador, who could only finish 13th and 15th respectively.
Froome now leads Valverde (Movistar) overall by 3min 25sec, with Bauke Mollema (Belkin) 3min 37sec behind in third and Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) 3min 54sec down in fourth.
It means the Team Sky leader should take a comfortable advantage into the high-mountain stages of the race's final week and is perfectly placed to become Britain's second consecutive Tour winner.
Martin shows his class
The stage was soured, however, by an incident involving fellow Briton Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step), who had urine thrown at him from the crowd less than 24 hours after being involved in a controversial crash on stage 10.
Back on the road and out early, Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) underlined his status as the world's best time trial rider with a magnificent performance on a 33km, rolling course from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.
The German posted the fastest times at both of the two intermediate split points and went on to stop the clock in 36min 29sec - more than a minute faster than any other finisher at the time.
Other than Richie Porte's mark of 37min 50sec, which was good enough for fourth place, Martin's time went virtually untroubled for four hours, until Froome left the start ramp as last man on the road.
With Contador, Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) all well behind Martin, it looked like the race leader could also struggle to compete, but instead he went through the 9.5km split fastest by one second.
He had double that to two seconds by the second split, at 22km, and now appeared to be on course for a second stage win of the race.
But with fatigue being compounded by a strong headwind, he wilted in the closing kilometres and had to settle for second.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) moved into the best young rider's white jersey with a superb display, finishing fifth, 1min 31sec down on Martin.
Stage 11 result
1 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 36:29
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +12sec
3 Thomas De Gendt (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, 1:01
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, 1:21
5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 1:31
6 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE, +1:35
7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1:37
8 Jeremy Roy (Fra) FDJ, +1:43
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano, +1:45
10 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar, +1:52
13 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +2:12
15 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff, +2:15
56 oaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +3:29
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 42:29:24
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +3:25
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +3:37
4 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff, +3:54
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff, +3:57
6 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +4:10
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +4:44
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +5:18
9 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, +5:37
10 Jean Christophe Péraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +5:39
- Green (points classification): Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
- Polka dot (mountains classification): Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
- White (best young rider): Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step