Cycling: Banana slip from lead: The Milk Race riders gather momentum during yesterday's record run to Milton Keynes

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH Chris Lillywhite extended his Milk Race lead there were more problems for him and the Banana team as yesterday's leg to Milton Keynes broke the stage speed record. A pile up at the start of the final lap on the finishing circuit left Lillywhite's colleagues Shane Sutton and Chris Reynolds on their backs and cost Banana the team leadership.

Sutton completed the 78 miles from Cambridge with his racing skinsuit ripped, exposing heavy grazing on his thigh and arm, and his ribs aching from the fall. Reynolds, nursing a swollen wrist, went with Sutton for X-rays at the insistence of their manager, Keith Lambert.

Lillywhite picked up a deduction of three seconds for winning the day's intermediate sprint, known as a hot spot, at picturesque Ampthill. But the real hot spot of the day was the finishing sprint, with Christian Andersen edging home to give Denmark their third victory of this race.

There was a momentary doubt about Andersen's victory when he took his hands off the handlebars, something which is normally penalised if it occurs during a close sprint. However, Andersen, who quickly grabbed the handlebars as he wobbled, explained later that he had been suffering from cramp.

'I was not attempting to make a victory salute. I was having cramp in the lower part of my back, and I stretched,' the Dane, who injured his back in a crash on the first day, said.

The biggest loser in yesterday's spill was the British professional, Rob Holden, who had held the overall lead on Tuesday. His bike was wrecked along with his chances, as he crashed from 11th, 1min 11sec behind Lillywhite, to 44th, 4:42 in arrears.

The pace of this fiercely contested race has increased each day and on the road to Milton Keynes the record set last year by the Belgian professional Rik Coppens was improved by nearly 11 2 mph with Andersen clocking in at 30.7mph. 'Everyone wants to have a go, and we are trying to keep the lid on it,' Lillywhite said.

(Photograph omitted)

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