(Reuters) - Barring a crash in Sunday's final stage, Alberto Contador is poised to win the Giro d'Italia after the Spaniard limited the damage on the 20th stage, a punishing 199-km trek from Saint-Vincent to Sestriere on Saturday.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider, who won the race in 2008, lost touch with his main rivals in the penultimate climb, up the narrow dirt roads to the Colle delle Finestre, but retained the overall leader's pink jersey.
At the end of the final ascent to Sestriere, Contador was sixth, two minutes 26 seconds behind stage winner Fabio Aru of Italy, who is second overall, two minutes two seconds behind with only one flat stage left to Milan.
Aru jumped away from a small leading group with just under two kilometers left and did not look back, claiming his second stage win in as many days.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Cannondale-Garmin was second, 18 seconds behind, and Colombian Rigoberto Uran finished third, 24 seconds off the pace.
Spain's Mikel Landa, Aru's Astana team mate who looked the strongest rider in the field in the climb to Colle delle Finestre, remained third overall, 3:14 behind Contador.
Contador is looking to become the first rider to achieve a rare Giro/Tour de France double since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)