The start of the fifth stage of the Tour of Switzerland was symbolically delayed by two minutes Wednesday as riders expressed their anger at the aggressive attitude of British cyclist Mark Cavendish.
Cavendish was held responsible for the mass crash in the final sprint of Tuesday's stage and penalised for changing his line and putting his colleagues in danger.
And riders from the Cervelo, Caisse d'Epargne and AG2R teams, whose colleagues Heinrich Haussler, Arnaud Coyot and Lloyd Mondory were forced to quit the race because of their injuries expressed their anger at the attitude of HTC-Columbia's Cavendish.
"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, who joined Wednesday's stage with his right knee bandaged, said: "I'm not going to say that I'm not at fault but I don't think I should have been held as the sole responsible. It's the worst fall of my career, the worst injuries that I've suffered. But there are riders who are in a worse state than me."
© AFP 2010
For full details of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, see our race report.