Cycling: Stage delayed as riders protest over Cavendish

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The start of the fifth stage of the Tour of Switzerland was delayed by two minutes yesterday after riders held a mini-strike to protest against British sprinter Mark Cavendish's attitude.

Organisers and riders blamed Cavendish for the mass crash that marred Tuesday's stage finish, which saw the HTC-Columbia rider suddenly change his line. Cavendish was handed a 30-second penalty for his move and docked 25 points.

Heinrich Haussler, Arnaud Coyot and Lloyd Mondory withdrew from the race following the spectacular crash, but Cavendish escaped any serious injury and started yesterday's stage. Gilles Mas, the sporting director of AGR, one of the team's to lose a rider, said the protest was intended to "send a message to Cavendish to ask him for more respect".

Affected by heavy rain showers, yesterday's stage was won by BMC's Marcus Burghardt. His fellow German Tony Martin, of HTC-Columbia, finished with the main peloton 46 seconds behind to keep a hold of the race leader's yellow jersey going into the key mountain stage. Cavendish completed the fifth stage but was way behind the winner.