Australian Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) moved into the Women’s Tour race lead with two days remaining after sprinting to victory in Welshpool on Thursday.

Brown edged out 2017 champion Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Racing) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek – Segafredo) to claim the stage four win having initiated the move the took the trio clear five kilometres from the line.

“I was pretty happy,” said Brown. “I had planned before today that I wanted to be aggressive in the final. It’s cool when you play out your plan and it comes off. I guess there’s a bit of relief because this is my first win for the year and I’ve been wanting it for a little while.

“You’re more likely to stay away if you’ve got three [riders clear]. I thought I could beat those two in a sprint, so I was quite happy about it actually. It was nice to have them in the final.”

She now leads Niewiadoma by four seconds and Longo Borghini by six going into Friday’s queen stage in Carmarthenshire that finishes atop the Black Mountain.

Brown added: “Obviously I want to be up there on the final climb [tomorrow]. I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. I’m happy now that I’ve got a little bit of buffer and time, so if I finish with the top climbers I can hopefully retain the jersey.”

Video: Women’s Tour 2022 stage four highlights

Brown was in a group of 10 riders that went clear on the Hirnant Bank ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains climb approaching Lake Vrynwy. Despite the drive of British champion Pfeiffer Georgi, who worked tirelessly for Team DSM to bring back the breakaway group, the chances of team-mate Lorena Wiebes claiming a hat-trick of wins eventually faded away on the outskirts of Welshpool.

As the efforts in the chase behind began to wane, Brown hit out on a small rise to go solo. Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma were the only riders who could react as the lead group fragmented, with the pair catching the Australian inside three kilometres to go.

The trio worked together, holding a chasing quartet at 10 seconds, before Longo Borghini lead out the sprint on Broad Street. However, once Brown hit the front with 100 metres to go, there was no doubting who the winner would be.

Longo Borghini said: “It was a really lumpy stage, there were some really hard [ŠKODA] QoMs in the middle of the stage and then some more, let’s say flat parts in the end, but still uncategorised hilly parts. It was really really hard. I like the stage here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“With the team we chased back the breakaway. It was away and then the team director told me to go on the first [ŠKODA] QoM, and there we set up a breakaway that stayed away until the end. It was always really close to the bunch but we managed to stay away.

“I’m excited about tomorrow. It’s going to be nice to finish up on the Black Mountain.”

The ŠKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey changed shoulders, moving to 2021 winner Elise Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM Racing), who now has a 14-point lead over former holder Christine Majerus (Team SDWorx).

Le Col – Wahoo rider Maike van der Duin extended her advantage in the Pillar sprints classification thanks to taking a point at the opening contest at Chirk. Her lead of seven points means she will hold the jersey going into the final stage regardless of points garnered in stage five.

For full results and standings, powered by Brother UK, please click here.

Highlights of the fourth stage of the Women’s Tour will be on ITV4 at 8pm on Thursday 9 June and available on demand via the ITV Hub.

The Women’s Tour continues in Wales on Friday with the queen stage of the 2022 event and the race’s toughest ever summit finish.  The 106.4-kilometre (66.3-mile) penultimate stage takes the race from sea level at Pembrey Country Park to the summit of the Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park, a 7.2-kilometre climb averaging 5.3% and ramping up to 21% in places.

Stage five is expected to finish at the summit of the Black Mountain at approximately 2pm, with live coverage on Eurosport Player and the GCN+ app from 11:30am.