Roberto Heras revealed that he was comfortable enough to "enjoy" the time trial that clinched him a record-equalling third Tour of Spain.
"After my 2002 defeat I was a little apprehensive at the start," said Heras.
"But this time I even managed to enjoy the ride during the final 8km when I realised that I had won."
Runner-up Perez saluted his Spanish compatriot: "Congratulations to him. He had a great Tour of Spain. It's just a dream for me to be on the podium."
Perez added: "I tried as hard as I could right from the start. I gave my all to win the stage but Roberto is very experienced and he managed things well."
Heras now has three Vuelta crowns, having won his home Tour in 2000 and 2003.