MARK CAVENDISH'S miserable Tour Down Under continued yesterday after Australian police mistakenly reopened the route to traffic before he had finished stage three of the race.
The Isle of Man sprinter, who has won 15 stages on the Tour de France, took to the 129-kilometre course between Unley and Stirling still sporting cuts and bruises from a crash on Wednesday,.
He was so far back on yesterday's stage, however, that police escorting the last three riders reopened the route, forcing Cavendish to dodge cars and other vehicles before finishing the race in 130th place, leaving him 131st and last overall.
Hitaf Rasheed, the general manager of Events South Australia said tour organisers had met with the South Australian Police "and have been advised that a decision was made regarding the green light vehicle in the interest of safety".
Rasheed continued: "The green light vehicle will continue to signal the end of the race and follow the last rider across the finish line."
Australian Matt Goss, a team-mate of Cavendish at HTC Highroad, reclaimed the leader's jersey after finishing third on stage three.
Goss, who along with the rest of his team wore black armbands in memory of rider Carla Swart who was killed in a training accident recently, finished behind compatriot Michael Matthews and defending champion Andre Greipel, but regained the overall lead from another Australian, Robbie McEwen.
Yorkshire rider Ben Swift, who earned a maiden win on the second stage of the race on Wednesday, is four seconds behind Goss in the overall standings while team-mate Simon Gerrans was Team Sky's best performer of the day with a fourth-place finish in Stirling.
Swift, 23, remains the highest-placed Sky rider in the general classification with three stages to go.