Katarzyna Niewiadoma held onto the race leader's green jersey at the conclusion of the penultimate stage of the OVO Energy Women's Tour in Chesterfield, but only after resisting a stern challenge from her rivals on the roads of Derbyshire.
The Polish National Champion, who has led the OVO Energy Women's Tour since stage one in Northamptonshire on Wednesday, faced her strongest challenge for the lead yet in the four days of racing.
The stage win went to Orica Scott's Sarah Roy; the second Australian in as many days to take a stage victory, following Chloe Hosking's win in Warwickshire on Friday.
"I'm really excited, elated and thrilled to take the victory, especially given the efforts that the team have put in for the past few stages,” said Roy speaking afterwards.
"I was preparing for a bunch sprint because the girls behind were lighting up. But [Christine] Majerus really put the hammer down. I just held her wheel and I took over on the descents.
"I felt pretty good coming into the finish. I'm actually really surprised – it was very hilly and I'm not a climber. It was a hard race.”
Christine Majerus had led a breakaway that developed a two-minute advantage over the chasing peloton at one stage but only managed to take 20 seconds off the race leader's advantage as Niewaidoma's chasing pack reeled them back in the closing stages.
Niewaidoma described the Derbyshire stage as "one of the hardest races I've done in my life.”
"I knew it was a really dangerous move and I knew we had to start riding to bring her back. I tried to stay calm and relaxed and only think positively,” she said.
"As soon as you start thinking negatively you become nervous. What made it easier for my head is that I knew the course was hard and the climbs suit me. I also knew that some teams would be destroyed on this course; it wasn't easy to stay in the front group.
"Of course it's impossible to control every attack but I tried as much as I could. I'm super happy that the OVO Energy Green Jersey is still with me.”
Team Sunweb's Leah Kirchmann also jumped up the order, elevating herself to third overall, 11-seconds behind Majerus, as the Barnes sisters dropped to fifth and sixth, with Hannah retaking the higher position and the Adnams Best British Rider jersey.
Kirchmann was part of a day-long three rider break including Shara Gillow and eventual winner Roy that was joined by Majerus, who bridged the gap from a small chasing group with 77-kilometres of racing remaining.
Buoyed by Majerus' presence, and with no chase initially behind, their lead swelled putting the Luxembourg champion into the virtual race lead. With Cervelo Bigla and Canyon//SRAM aiding the isolated Niewiadoma in the chase, they were gradually reeled back in.
Having saved her legs for the finish, Roy led from the front, outsprinting Majerus on the cobbled finish line, with Kirchmann coming home third for the final bonus seconds.
Audrey Cordon-Ragot sealed the SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb ahead of the final, flat, stage in London, finishing with a six-point lead over Lucinda Brand.
Teammate Jolien D'hoore retained the Eisberg Sprints Jersey, with Christine Majerus now her nearest challenger, two points behind with six points available during London's final stage.