Allan Peiper, in his first managerial role for Australia, countered the critics' comments after Lillywhite held on to his lead of 20 seconds as the 11th leg brought a victory for Poland's Jacek Mickiewicz on the roads of the refurbished docks of the Manchester Ship Canal.
'Their manager Keith Lambert's tactics have been good, and he has led them really well,' Peiper said, drawing on his experience of more than 10 years of racing with the European professional elite.
'They are leading the race, and have defended that lead with limited resources. Most of the teams are amateurs, so the pros are going to cop criticism anyway.'
With no one in the top 10, Peiper has no axe to grind, but several have been sharply critical, including last year's winner, Conor Henry, who described them as 'a joke' after a move failed earlier in the race because of Banana tactics.
Rob Holden spent 66 miles in the lead yesterday with the Dane Frank Hoej, but they were pulled back four miles from the finish.
'We were no danger to the Banana team, but they worked to make sure that we got nowhere,' he said. 'I hoped a few more riders might join us, but there was no chance with Banana controlling the race behind us.'
Lillywhite's chief rival, the Norwegian Ole Simensen, went to hospital after finishing with the 35 riders who chased home Mickiewicz. He needed stitches in a knee wound, but vowed that he would start today's final leg around the streets of Manchester.
The Belgian Stefaan Stouf needed six stitches in a head wound. The Czech racer, Vladimir Kinst, the other casualty, arrived nearly 51 minutes after the winner, and was taken to hospital for treatment to bad lacerations on his arms and legs. Although Kinst failed to beat the finishing 'cut', race officials will allow him to start the final 50-mile circuit race if he wishes.
Mickiewicz had sympathy for the fallen. His victory signalled his return to winning ways after a crash in March injured both his knees, and the sprinter from Wroclaw is set to take the top sprinter's award for a second year.
MILK RACE Stage 11 (Liverpool to Salford Quays, 85.6 miles): 1 J Mickiewicz (Poland) 3hr 6min 37sec; 2 M Erzen (Slovenia); 3 C Andersen (Denmark); 4 A Krzeszowiec (Poland); 5 A Nadobenko (Kazakhstan); 6 C Lillywhite (GB, Banana); 7 G Pus (Slovenia); 8 P Konings (Netherlands); 9 P Lievens (Belgium); 10 G Rice (Australia) all same time. Stage team: 1 Poland 9hr 19min 36sec; 2 Slovenia +5sec; 3 Denmark +7.
Overall: 1 Lillywhite 41hr 39min 47sec; 2 O Simensen (Norway) +20sec; 3 D Kovar (Czech Republic) +25; 4 A Kivilev (Kazakhstan) +30; 5 B Smith (GB, Banana) +37; 6 C Henry (Ireland) +41; 7 N Mattan (Belgium) +45; 8 N van der Steen (Netherlands) +48; 9 M Rendell (New Zealand) +52; 10 M Stephens (GB Amateur) +1min 13sec. Other GB overall: 16 M McKay (GB Amateur) +2:51; 19 S Bray (Britannia) +3:49; 20 R Holden (GB, Neilson-Tivoli) +4:01; 30 I Wright (Britannia) +8:02; 35 A Doyle (GB, Neilson-Tivoli) +12:36; 38 W Randle (GB, Neilson-Tivoli) +13:59. Other Ireland: 43 I Chivers +20:44; 71 P Collins +50:54; 79 P Callaly +1hr 30min 05sec. Overall team: 1 Norway 124hr 45min 27sec; 2 Denmark +2min 23sec; 3 Denmark +4:02.
Sprints classification: 1 J Mickiewicz 24 pts; 2 A Nadobenko 15; 3 B Smith 12.
King of the Mountains: 1 M McKay (GB Amateur) 92 pts; 2 R Romanik (Poland) 80; 3 A Mizourov (Kazakhstan) 76.
Points classification: 1 M van Steen (Netherlands) 72; 2 C Lillywhite 72; 3 G Rice 59.
Combine classification: 1 B Smith 21; 2 A Nadobenko 41; 3 M McKay 42.
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