The 32 kilometre course was one for the powerful TT specialists, with Rohan Dennis (BMC) taking a convincing win on Stage 16 of La Vuelta.
Behind the Australian, the battle for the general classification (GC) was the main event with the top ten riders starting within two minutes of Adam Yates' (Mitchelton-Scott) race lead.
Yates had a good ride for 13th on the day, finishing a minute and twenty-eight seconds behind Dennis.
The performance saw him lose time to Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Enric Mas (Quickstep Floors) but gain on his other competitors.
Second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost nine seconds to Yates, whilst Colombian duo Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) lost 42seconds and 51seconds apiece.
Yates now has a 33-second lead over Valverde, 52 seconds to a ressurgent Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo), one minute and 15 seconds to Quintana, one minute and 30 seconds to Mas and one minute and 34 seconds to Lopez.
“I did a really good ride," said Yates. 'I was really well in the very beginning and on the hard climbs I had the perfect pacing strategy, but in the final, I was just dying like everybody else and it wasn’t nice.”
The British star reflected on his tenuous hold on the 'maillot rojo', with competitors breathing down his neck.
“Thirty-three seconds over Valverde is not that much," said Yates, "I had much more of an advantage in the Giro, over a minute and we all know how that finished in the end, but there’s still a long way to here and we’ll see how tomorrow goes.
“Kruijswijk has been strong everyday so far and slowly getting better with each stage. He’s also normally good in the third week of a Grand Tour and a real diesel engine. He’s a good guy and now he’s up to third we’ll have to be very wary of him.”
Kruisjwijk was the unquestionable 'winner' out of the general classification riders, finishing fourth on the stage and pulling back time on all his rivals for the podium in Madrid.
"This is very beautiful," Kruijswijk said. "I had a very good day and I wanted to deliver a good time trial. I knew that on a good day, I could finish in the top ten, but to finish fourth, that is very good and above expectations.
"The course suited me, but you never know what the competition will do. I started really well, maybe a little too fast, and I was able to ride a steady time trial well. If you finish within a minute from Dennis, you have done very well. In the end, the differences are still quite big. "
The Dutchman vaulted his way up the standings, from fifth to third and closed to within a minute of the race lead.
"We are going to take it day by day," said Kruijswijk. "We will all give our maximum and then we'll see where we end up on Sunday. So far all is going really well."
La Vuelta continues with Stage 17, which concludes with a mountain-top finish in Balcon de Bizkaia.