Chris Froome's Sky team-mate Wout Poels maintained his overall lead in the Ruta del Sol as Sacha Modolo won the third stage in a dash in Herrera, making up for his first-day gaffe.
Froome, starting his season here amid controversy regarding an adverse finding in a drugs test at last year's Vuelta a Espana, was placed seventh following the second stage and later suggested his aim was simply to aid overnight leader Poels.
And that tactic worked on Friday, keeping Poels close enough to stage winner Modolo, of EF Education First-Drapac, who had finished second on the opening day after he celebrated too early and was pipped on the line.
Setting off from Mancha Real, a four-man pack of Marco Minnaard, Alvaro Cuadros, Hector Saez and Oscar Cabedo broke away from the peloton after almost an hour of racing, initially building up a gap of over three minutes.
But the peloton - including Froome and his Sky team-mates - gradually reeled the frontrunners back in, catching the break with around 8km to go to set up a sprint finish.
Poels was nowhere to be seen as Modolo nudged over the line, this time delaying his celebration long enough to ensure he secured victory.
However, the result did little to impact the top of the overall standings and Poels retained a narrow lead over Astana Pro Team's Luis Leon Sanchez, with Froome still in seventh.
Modolo (EFD) takes the stage win and @WoutPoels finishes in the following lead group to maintain his lead on GC!-- Team Sky (@TeamSky) February 16, 2018