Cycling: Cavendish struggles down under

Mark Cavendish's miserable Tour Down Under continued today 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, and was so far back on Thursday's stage that police escorting the last three riders reopened the route, forcing Cavendish to dodge cars before finishing the race in 130th place, leaving him 131st and last overall.

A statement from race organisers read: "During the Colemans Group Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under the green light vehicle, which signals all riders have completed the race, moved ahead of the trailing three riders."

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 placing 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.

Team Sky rider Ben Swift, who won the second stage of the race, is four seconds behind Goss in the overall standings while team-mate Simon Gerrans was Sky's best performer of the day with a fourth-place finish in Stirling.