Barring mishap or miracle, Alberto Contador will be sipping champagne in Paris on Sunday having just been crowned Tour de France champion.
Yet even the sweet taste of success mixed with France's finest bubbly may struggle to rinse away the broiling bitterness that has seethed in Contador's mind throughout this year's event.
Tipped for victory since before the start of the race, the 26-year-old Spanish rider has found that one truly is the loneliest number and heads toward the finish line of this three-week test of mind and soul nursing a series of grievances.
Contador should be the happiest man in the field, with a lead of more than four minutes on nearest challenger Andy Schleck on the eve of the race's last significant stage.
But the souring of relations within his own team, Astana, has gnawed away at him. He has felt isolated within the camp, largely due to the close and long-standing friendship between team director Johan Bruyneel and returning star Lance Armstrong.
Contador felt threatened enough by Armstrong's presence that he twice was moved to launch attacks not authorized by Bruyneel, a direct act of rebellion in a sport where directors intricately plan every tactical maneuver.
Once Contador grabbed the leader's yellow jersey, it effectively forced Astana to throw its full weight behind him and his bid for overall glory, ending the previous arrangement of having joint team leaders – himself and Armstrong.
Yet seeing off a seven-time champion hungry for No. 8 still has not been enough to secure Contador the kind of respect and attention he craves.
Armstrong's return has been the only story in town this year, even if the Texan's bid for a place on the podium fades on the climb up Mont Ventoux this weekend.
Worse for Contador, his time in the spotlight following his spectacular performance in the time trial stage around Annecy earlier in the week was tainted by controversy over a newspaper column by former Tour winner Greg Lemond, who claimed Contador had to prove his superhuman climbing performances were "clean."
The stain of drugs has followed Contador in the past, keeping him out of the 2008 Tour when his team was excluded for doping indiscretions.
The way cycling's reputation has been dragged through the mud has also significantly affected his earning power, with his endorsements in Spain only a fraction of those enjoyed by celebrities such as tennis star Rafael Nadal or leading soccer players.
Even with victory in this Tour seeming virtually guaranteed, the future remains cloudy and Contador must wonder what he needs to do to catch a break.
His position at Astana, even with Armstrong out of the picture, appears far from rosy. Doping cheat Alexandre Vinokourov is the favored rider of the team's Kazakhstan ownership group and may be appointed as leader in 2010.
Contador could look to join another team – the Caisse d'Epargne squad has been mentioned as one likely destination – yet while such a switch would boost his salary, it would leave him with a far weaker support crew.
The ceaseless agonies of the French tarmac has perhaps been the easiest part for Contador, the place where he can simply use his unique talent and supreme physical gifts.
His efforts in the Tour deserve credit and respect, and it must be remembered that it was only four years ago when his career looked in doubt following a brain hemorrhage.
After all the difficulties Contador has experienced in the race, only one remains, but it is the toughest of all: the exhausting climb up Mont Ventoux that will complete the competitive part of the Tour before the ceremonial final stage into Paris.
The evils of Ventoux are steeped in time. It was here that British rider Tommy Simpson died during a stage in 1967, and the brutal incline will test every rider to the limit.
It will be on Ventoux's potted moonscape that Contador will have his final chance, an opportunity to show he is a worthy, if overshadowed, champion.