Cavendish had to pick his way through traffic to finish stage three in Adelaide
Mark Cavendish was forced to finish stage three of the Tour Down Under among road traffic.
The incident occurred after police opened up road to the public after the main peloton had passed.
"I did the whole last lap on open road, you had to stand on all sides of the thing and stop for traffic," said British sprint ace Cavendish.
Asked if he had to negotiate much traffic, he said: "Quite a bit. More than you want in a professional race."
Cavendish suffered damaging cuts and bruises after a fall near the end of stage two of the Australian event and his travails on Thursday did not help his mood.
The third stage involved tackling a hilly 21km (13-mile) circuit three times and Cavendish, a 15-time stage winner in the Tour de France, trailed in 12 minutes behind winner Rabobank's Michael Matthews of Australia. Simon Gerrans of Team Sky finished fourth.
Race director Mike Turtur said an emergency meeting would take place to find out why Cavendish and other riders had to negotiate through traffic to finish the stage.
"We've had a policy in place whereby the green light vehicle is the last vehicle on the road behind the last rider, for 13 years," said Turtur.
"For whatever reason, our understanding is that green light vehicle was called forward of the Cavendish group with about 10 kilometres to go and we don't know the reason why.
"Until we know how and why, I can't make any further comment - but it's not the policy we've had in place for 13 years, it's never happened before.
"It's not good, but sometimes these things happen. We'll be meeting as soon as possible with police."
Australian Matt Goss, a team-mate of Cavendish at HTC Highroad, reclaimed the leader's jersey after placing third on stage three. Compatriot Michael Matthew of the Rabobank team won the stage.