Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers won stage 4 of cycling's Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday edging his key rival Wout van Aert on the 31.9km time-trial with a sizzling time of 35min 32sec.
For Van Aert this was a second runner-up spot in two days after he celebrated too soon on Tuesday's hilltop finish and was pipped at the line by David Gaudu.
Van Aert, however, not only retains the overall leader's yellow jersey, he moves some 53sec ahead of Mattia Cattaneo in second and 56sec ahead of title pretender Primoz Roglic who is third.
Olympic time-trial champion Roglic was fifth on the day and his Jumbo co-captain Dane Jonas Vingegard was seventh.
The pair are well placed for a tilt at the title in the eight-day race, which is generally a mountain test but this year featured the potentially pivotal time-trial.
Known by his fans as 'Top Ganna', the giant Italian 25-year-old double world champion registered an average speed of 53.865km/h on a stage which was a pure test of power, with no hills or technically difficult sections.
All-rounder Van Aert, who finished second to Ganna in the last two world championship time trials, was just 02sec adrift of the former track specialist.
On a blustery day with low-hanging clouds, the race remained largely rain-free in the open countryside of central eastern France.
The only outburst was EF's Brandon McNulty losing his temper when he had a mechanical that cost him a GC place.
Thursday's stage five is relatively flat, Friday sees a return to the hills and the two concluding stages at the weekend take on 1,500m altitude mountains.