Wettingen: Britain`s Mark Cavendish claimed he should not be held solely responsible for the dramatic crash which took out several riders at the end of stage four of the Tour of Switzerland.
The end of Tuesday`s stage was marred by a nasty pile-up after Cavendish veered from his line and crashed into Cervelo`s Heinrich Haussler as both raced furiously for the finish line.
Several riders caught up in the melee had to leave the race through injury, notably Haussler who has just returned to the peloton after recovering from injury.
Despite being penalised a 30-sec time penalty by race officials for not holding his line, Cavendish -- who does not contest the race`s general classification -- said it made no difference to him.
"Thirty seconds or thirty minutes, it`s no different to me. I shouldn`t have been the only one who was given the fault there," he said.
And after some teams and riders launched a symbolic protest against the Isle of Man rider`s erratic riding by delaying the start of the fifth stage by two minutes, he claimed 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," said the HTC-Columbia rider.
"It`s sad that people are badly injured. I don`t want to make a big show about it."
Cavendish claimed 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 a song and dance about it."
Earlier Wednesday riders from the Cervelo, Caisse d`Epargne and AG2R teams, whose colleagues were forced to quit the race because of their injuries, expressed their anger at the attitude of 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 will race the Tour de France next month aiming to win the sprinter`s green jersey, which is awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points from the sprints on each stage.
Last year the Manxman was relegated to the back of the peloton`s stage standings after he tried to force Norwegian rival Thor Hushovd into the barriers during a sprint duel.