The Wildside crown is no closer to being decided with three riders within 28 seconds of each other with one day's racing remaining.
Australia's newly-crowned national champion Daniel McConnell heads the three-way tussle ahead of fellow under 23 competitors and Victorians Steele van Hoff and Paul van der Ploeg.
McConnell has admitted to riding a conservative race in an attempt to maintain his overall advantage from rivals clamouring for top honours on general classification.
And with one stage to come over a 36km sandy course to be held on Tasmania's West Coast near Strahan, he has become wary that unforseen circumstances could ultimately bring his race undone.
"I've tried to limit my losses by riding conservatively as I feel that's the best way of winning this race from now on," said McConnell. "After seeing Sid (Taberlay) lose big time on the first day from punctures, I want to make sure I'm not burdened with the same disasters," he added.
"It's up to all the other guys to chase me down now so I've got the luxury of sitting and seeing how I go." McConnell will take a six-second lead from van Hoff going into the final day's racing.
Day three featured a six kilometre time trial around the mining town of Zeehan followed by a 22km race on gravel roads and through creek crossings from Trial Harbour to Granville on Tasmania's remote and wind-swept coastline. Four-time Wildside champion Sid Taberlay prevailed on both stages.
Taberlay was five seconds faster than Victoria's Luke Fetch in the race against the clock and was followed by Paul van der Ploeg nine seconds in arrears.
Having won four of the six stages contested since Saturday's start at Cradle Mountain, Taberlay has clearly been the most dominant rider in the strong field of elite male competitors, but admits to feeling frustrated at the knowledge he won't be in a position to add to his quartet of titles.
"The dynamics of this race, it's all about the general classification really, in terms of overall honours," said Taberlay. "It's nice to win stages but the real prestige is to win the thing overall.
"I think I'm riding well but unfortunately you sometimes get let down by the mechanical issues."
In the open women's category, Canberra's Heather Logie maintained a grip on the overall leadership from Hobart rival Rowena Fry, but not before unleashing a turn of speed and overtaking Australia's reigning champion on the latter flat sections of the time trial.
Fry won the stage to Granville but will need to rely on drafting during the final stage in order to make up the 1:26 second deficit needed to dislodge Logie from the top spot in their race for overall honours.
"I was focusing on national mountain bike champs which we a few weeks ago so I definitely want to come away with the win and it's great that Heather and I are pushing each other so hard," said Fry.