Burgos - Dutchman Tom Dumoulin moved into pole position to claim his first Grand Tour title at Spain's Vuelta by storming to victory in Wednesday's time-trial to move into the overall lead by three seconds.
Dumoulin posted a best time of 46min 01sec to take the 38.7km 17th stage around Burgos by over a minute from Poland's Maciej Bodnar and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.
Italian Fabio Aru moved into second in the general classification, but Joaquim Rodriguez's dreams of winning the race on home soil appear over as he dropped back to third overall, 1min 15sec behind Dumoulin.
"To win by a minute is amazing. I was hoping also for the stage win and to get the red jersey, but it is amazing that it works out," Dumoulin told Eurosport.
"It is only three seconds on Aru so I'm a little bit worried, but I am just going to celebrate this with the team first and then think about the other stages."
Dumoulin is a time-trial specialist having finished third in the world championships last year, but had shown his abilities as a complete rider to manage to limit the distance between he and overnight leader Rodriguez to just 1min 51sec after nine mountain finishes.
Indeed, the 24-year-old's victory is his second stage win of the race after claiming stage nine on a summit finish ahead of Tour de France winner Chris Froome and he believes he can hold onto the leader's red jersey until Sunday's final stage in Madrid.
"It's definitely possible (to win)," added Dumoulin.
"It is going to be very stressful, but I guess that is the same for everyone.
"For me this Vuelta has been a success already, who could have thought I would be in the red jersey in the third week with two stage wins in my pocket? I will try to defend it and we will see."
Aru remains very much in the hunt for his first Grand Tour win after impressively limiting the damage done to just three seconds with four stages remaining.
The Astana rider is hoping to go one better than his second place to Alberto Contador at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year when the nearly three minutes he lost to the Spaniard in the time- trial proved decisive.
"There are still four stages remaining and the difference isn't that much so it is still to be decided," said Aru.
"I have to go for it, particularly in the three stages before Madrid."
The race continues with a 204km ride from Roa to Riaza on Thursday.