A similar gloom hung over the Australians, but with good reason. They had missed the major move, and rolled in three minutes and 56 seconds after the winner, Denmark's Nicolai Bo Larsen. Henk Vogels, their 19-year-old super-kid, lost the yellow jersey, and is now 3min 45sec adrift of Lillywhite.
Lillywhite's displeasure was down to a misjudgement in the final mile. He and a Polish rider raced away from the leading group, then turned into the finishing straight. 'It was like hitting a brickwall. The headwind was so strong,' Lillywhite bemoaned. 'I should not have missed a stage win, but we were never going to stay away in that wind.' Sure enough, 200 yards from the line, the horde sucked them back and left them to straggle in after Larsen had sprinted ahead for Denmark's second consecutive victory.
'I could not attack too soon because we were working for my highly placed team-mate, Frank Hoej,' Larsen said. 'I just sat in the group and waited for my opportunity.'.
The Australians also lost their team lead after a promising first two days. 'They did their best, but they are still pretty young,' Allan Peiper, the Australian manager, said. 'It was a vital mistake to miss the decisive attack completely. They have gone from a positive position to a negative one, and they will never get the upper hand again because they are wasting energy chasing.'
Today the race resumes from the headquarters of the sponsors, the Milk Marketing Board, with another tough run over 98 miles to Welwyn Garden City.
MILK RACE (Stage 2, Eastbourne to Portsmouth, 103.4 miles): 1 N Larsen (Den) 3hr 56min 53sec; 2 N van der Steen (Neth); 3 K Marcussen (Den); 4 W Randle (GB, Neilson Tivoli); 5 M Erzen (Slov); 6 B Smith (GB, Banana); 7 N Mattan (Bel); 8 A Pedersen (Nor); 9 J Olsen (Den); 10 L McKay (Irl) all s/t. Overall: 1 C Lillywhite (GB, Banana) 8:30:39; 2 K Marcussen +30sec; 3 B Smith +39; 4 O Simensen (Nor) +40; 5 A Mizourov (Kaz) +43; 6 C Henry (Irl) +50; 7 M Stephens (GB, amateur) +1:01; 8 S Lowe (NZ) +1:07; 9 R Holden (GB, Neilson-Tivoli) +1:11; 10 van der Steen +1:13. Other British placings: 13 W Randle (amateur) +1:22; 14 S Bray (Britannia) +1:24; 16 J Tanner (Neilson Tivoli) +1:30; 26 K Reynolds (Banana) +3:02; 27 B Luckwell (Banana) +3:13; 32 M Walsham (Banana) +4:13. Overall team placings: 1 Banana 25:17:10; 2 Denmark +4.