Vincenzo Nibali all but guaranteed Tour de France title
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali is expected to be crowned Tour de France winner Sunday.
- Vincenzo Nibali of Italy closes in on a first Tour de France cycling title
- Nibali carries a nearly eight-minute lead into Sunday's final stage
- Two Frenchmen are set to finish on the podium in Paris, pleasing home fans
- Tony Martin of Germany wins the 20th stage, a time trial, by more than a minute
Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook
(CNN) -- With the last day of the Tour de France usually uneventful as it relates to changes in the overall lead, Saturday marked the last realistic opportunity someone could catch Vincenzo Nibali.
But given his big advantage, that was always unlikely.
And after Saturday's penultimate stage, only a catastrophe can stop Nibali from becoming just the second Italian champion of cycling's most coveted race in more than 45 years -- Marco Pantani was the last Italian winner in 1998, preceding Lance Armstrong's now tainted reign.
As Germany's Tony Martin claimed the 54-kilometer time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux, Nibali finished fourth. Crucially, though, he carries a nearly eight-minute lead into the final day, a 137.5-kilometer stretch from Evry to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
New film on downfall of Lance Armstrong
Cavendish downplays Armstrong impact
Wiggins 1st Briton to win Tour de France
"I haven't realized yet how big it is to win the Tour de France," Nibali of team Astana was quoted as saying by the Tour's official website. "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 honor, the enormous number of people, Paris' monuments.
"I'll try to savor my victory as much as I can. Every moment will count."
There hasn't been a home champion since Bernard Hinault in 1985 and that drought looks set to continue but the good news for the French is that two riders -- Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot -- should finish on the podium for the first time since 1984. Peraud overtook Pinot for second.
Peraud said the early exits of last year's winner Chris Froome and former winner Alberto Contador due to wrist and shin injuries, respectively, allowed him to contemplate a runner-up placing.
"The withdrawals of Froome and Contador opened a range of possibilities and I started dreaming about this second place," he said. "I'm happy to have achieved that goal.
"I have a feeling of mission accomplished and a lot of joy today."
Martin, a multiple world time trial champion from Germany, won his second stage of this year's race in 1:06.21, more than a minute-and-a-half quicker than Dutchman Tom Dumoulin.
Read: Lithuanian makes history
Part of complete coverage on
From spectacular action at the Commonwealth Games , to high-speed drama on the race track, here are the week's best sporting images.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0404 GMT (1204 HKT)
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
Today's five most popular stories