An angry Mark Cavendish has hit out at the Tour Down Under organisers after a miscommunication resulted in the stage three finishing circuit at Stirling being re-opened to the public while he and two other riders were still to finish.
The HTC-Highroad rider, Movistar's Jose Vincente Garcia and Matteo Bono from Lampre-ISD finished 12 minutes and 29 seconds behind stage winner Michael Matthews from Rabobank. Cavendish crashed on stage two and needed several stitiches in a cut above his eye but was determined to continue in the race.
"They opened the f**king road didn't they before we finished; I did the whole last lap on open roads, you had to stand on all sides of the thing and stop for traffic. So if we haven't made it, they better make allowances," Cavendish said just after finishing the stage.
Cut-off times are not something the group had to worry about, with race director Mike Turtur acknowledging post race that an error in communication within the convoy had occurred.
"We've had a policy in place whereby the green light vehicle is the last vehicle on the road behind the last rider, for 13 years," he said.
"For whatever reason, our understanding is that the green light vehicle was called forward of the Cavendish group with about 10km to go and we don't know the reason why."
Turtur was unwilling to say where the fault lay at the time of publication but said a meeting with police would take place this evening.
"It's not good, but sometimes these things happen," he admitted. "Something we've had firmly in place for 13 years has been altered today, for some reason."
Cavendish said he was "a little bit disappointed" with the way the stage unfolded. The 25-year-old quipped about the amount of traffic he had to contend with over the final kilometres was "more than you want in a professional race I think."