Pablo Urtasun prevailed from the break to take stage honours on the penultimate day of the Tour of Britain, while Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) consolidated his overall lead.
I think Haas would have to take all the time bonuses and win the stage which I don't think will happen so I can't lose it that way.
The day’s main breakaway on the 172.9km seventh stage from Barnstaple to Dartmouth managed to hold off the chasers to the finish, with the 10-rider selection slimmed down to just four for the final sprint.
Samuel Sanchez lead out Euskaltel-Euskadi team-mate Urtasun for the win ahead of their last remaining breakaway companions Marc De Maar (UniftedHealthcare) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas Cannondale).
A bold attack by race leader Tiernan-Locke in the final 10km saw him finish in the chasing group, 47sec behind Urtasun, but more importantly 49sec ahead of nearest rival Australian Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE).
The pressure was on from the opening kilometre until a defining group of ten riders managed to signal they were the selection for the day by establishing over a four minute lead.
Basso, De Maar, Sanchez, Urtasun, Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun), Jan Barta (NetApp), Bernard Sulzberger (Team Raleigh-GAC), Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4-Giordana), Ronan McLaughlin (An Post Sean Kelly) and Jacek Morajko (Vacansoleil-DCM) provided the carrot for the peloton.
Endura Racing, defending the lead of Tiernan-Locke were active in leading the chase, and they were joined at the front of the peloton by future team partner NetApp.
The leaders were two minutes in front of the peloton with 16km to go.
With bang on 10km to go, Tiernan-Locke attacked the peloton, drawing out the field and shelling riders off the back.
While Tiernan-Locke instigated a strong chase group, the leaders strength was rapidly failing until just four riders remained.
With a minute to make up in the final 7.5km, the chase group lead a valiant pursuit, but they never came close to reeling back their chance for a stage win.
For Tiernan-Locke, with Howard back in the peloton, his effort saw him inch closer to securing the overall tour win.
It is 19 years since Chris Lillywhite became the last Briton to win the Tour of Britain. But Tiernan-Locke, 27, is confident of changing that in the final stage on Sunday.
"I think Haas would have to take all the time bonuses and win the stage which I don't think will happen so I can't lose it that way," he told the Tour of Britain website.
"I've just got to not lose time on the sprints so we'll have to ride for the sprints and there will be other teams interested in that and I am not going to get dropped on the climbs.
"We showed we were up to it today and I am sure we'll be up to it."
The teams now head to Reigate for Sunday's 147.7km run to the finish in Guildford.
Stage 7: 172.9km, Barnstaple to Dartmouth
1 Pablo Urtasun (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4hr 20minn 31sec
2 Marc De Maar (AHO) UnitedHealthcare
3 Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Samuel Sanchez (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:02
5 Leopold Koenig (CZE) NetApp 0:00:39
6 Nathan Haas (AUS) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:47
7 Bernard Sulzberger (AUS) Raleigh-GAC
8 Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBR) Endura
9 Bartosz Huzarski (POL) NetApp
10 Damiano Caruso (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale
1 Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GBR) Endura 29hr 38min 14sec
2 Nathan Haas (AUS) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:18
3 Damiano Caruso (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:23
4 Leigh Howard (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:01:02
5 Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare 0:01:12
6 Bartosz Huzarski (POL) NetApp 0:02:01
7 David Le Lay (FRA) Saur-Sojasun 0:02:01
8 Boy Van Poppel (NED) UnitedHealthcare 0:02:23
9 Christian Knees (GER) Sky 0:02:26
10 Jerome Coppel (FRA) Saur-Sojasun 0:04:21