The picturesque vistas were just a ruse; the stage with its uphill climb of nine kilometres at altitude was brutal.
But Britton ultimately conquered the gruelling nine kilometre test against the clock in 18 minutes and 29 seconds and moved into the race lead.
The tough parcours took its toll on race favourite BMC's Brent Bookwalter who finished 46 seconds behind the new race leader and as a result shook up the standings a little.
But despite his race favourite status, Bookwalter wasn't surprised at the stage result.
“It was probably as I expected out there today," the American said. "It was basically a 20-minute power test at high altitude. I think to do well today you really had to be well-adapted and have done some real specific threshold work up at altitude.
"Knowing that’s not what I had done coming in, I just tried to give it my best and tried to ride on my limit the whole time. I couldn’t really do much more than that.
"There were no corners, no spots to let off, no tactics, just riding steady the whole time. It was kind of like slow motion the whole time."
Bookwalter's teammate Joey Rosskopf fared better, sitting in the hot seat for most of the second half of the stage, ultimately clocking the fourth-fastest time.
"It felt better than I expected," the newly crowned USA national time trial champion. "It was always going to be hard to pace with the high altitude. I’m kind of bummed to miss the podium by a quarter of a second."
"It was really cool to wear the US National Time Trial skinsuit for the first time. I had a lot of comments and it was really exciting to wear it!"