Cycling: Henry eyes the yellow

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CONOR HENRY, last year's Milk Race winner, is the chief threat to a third Banana triumph in the 1,150-mile international.

Who says so? None other than Keith Lambert, who has steered Banana to two individual and two team victories in three years in a race which resumes today with a tough second half.

The first week was fast, with an average speed of 27mph, but the next five days will be mainly a slog. Today's Birmingham to Llandudno leg is the longest, with 125 miles of racing following a 12-mile neutralised stretch when the riders do not race until they clear Birmingham.

'They will be riding for nearly six hours,' Lambert said. 'It's a bit tough on some of the younger lads.' Nico Mattan, the Belgian who holds an overall lead of 33 seconds over Lambert's man, Chris Lillywhite, will be under pressure from the Banana team and the terrain.

They are three stiff Welsh climbs in the last quarter of the race and a few blips on the course profile could make tiring legs rubbery in the last 10 miles.

'The next two days should sort out the race and I see Henry as the man to worry about,' Lambert said. 'He is clever and he has confirmed this year that he knows how to read a race. Anyone who can join a move like he did at Malvern then attack to get second place has to be coming into form.'

Lillywhite has team-mates Ben Luckwell and Brian Smith behind him in the overall standings, with the watchful Henry fifth, only 1min 14sec away from another yellow jersey fitting.

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