FROM the moment that the route was announced – with the race's first-ever summit finish in the shadow of Haytor Rocks – Stage Six always looked like the decisive test of this year's Tour of Britain.
So it proved. But not as most pundits had predicted.
The 'Queen' stage of the eight-day race, containing three major climbs before the final three-and-a-half mile lung-burster up to Haytor, looked as if the winning rider might well snatch the overall lead and hold it to the end of Sunday's final 'Criterium' dash around central London.
But what Sir Bradley Wiggins did was establish a half-minute lead in his speciality, the ten-mile time trial which formed Stage Three at Knowsley near Liverpool.
He won the Tour there. And then, determined to end a disappointing international season with victory on home soil, the 2012 Tour de France winner managed not to lose it at Haytor.
Wiggo's Team Sky colleagues helped to chase down a three-minute gap to a leading group which was clear for most of the day from the Sidmouth start, all ready for the final showdown up to Haytor.
Wiggins may not be a specialist climber, like Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who was right there in the mix, but he made a major effort along with his faithful teammate David Lopez Garcia to keep the new leaders in sight.
Simon Yates (Great Britain) marked himself out as a potential star of the future, and wowed the thousands of fans who turned Haytor into a noisy Tour de France-style finish, by snatching victory at the top, two seconds clear of Garcia and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling).
But Wiggins had his eyes firmly on their back wheels, along with Quintana, with an overall lead of 32 seconds and the title effectively in his pocket.
There was no way that Wiggins and Sky were going to let anyone else poop their party over Stage Seven in Surrey the next day or in Westminster on Sunday.
But before anyone wonders whether last Friday's 137 kilometres from Sidmouth to Haytor wasn't quite as tough as some had predicted, just look at the carnage behind Yates, Wiggo & Co.
British star Mark Cavendish, who ended up winning three sprint finishes, was seven-and-a-half minutes down, with his Italian rival Elia Viviani (Cannondale) at nine minutes.
And UK rider Dean Downing (Madison Genesis) dragged himself over the line 16 minutes after Yates had lunged across it.
Footnote: Well done to veteran South Devonian Yanto Barker, who fought hard for Team UK Youth all week to finish 38th overall out of the 97 survivors.