The start of the fifth stage of the Tour of Switzerland was symbolically delayed by two minutes Wednesday as some riders expressed their anger at HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish for the crash in the finish sprint of Tuesday’s stage.
Cavendish was penalized for changing his line and putting his colleagues in danger.
Riders from the Cervelo, Caisse d’Epargne and AG2R teams, whose colleagues Heinrich Haussler, Arnaud Coyot and Lloyd Mondory, respectively, were forced to quit the race because of their injuries expressed their anger at the Manxman.
“We just want to send a message to Cavendish to ask him for more respect,” said AG2R sporting director Gilles Mas, whose team rider Sebastien Hinault was elbowed by the British rider in the fourth stage.
Bystanders claimed that Cavendish responded to criticism from riders after Tuesday’s incident by spitting on the ground on front of them.
Cavendish, said he was not the only one to blame.
“I’m not gonna say that I wasn’t wrong but I don’t think I’m the one who should have taken all the blame. That’s disappointing,” he said.
“It’s sad that people are badly injured. I don’t want to make a big show about it.”
Cavendish said the crash was the worst off his career.
“I’m lucky, I can’t complain, there’s guys in worst condition,” he said. “It’s the worst crash I’ve had in my career, the worst injuries. Sprinting is like that, I’m not going to make a song and dance about it.”