Primoz Roglic on Friday blamed rival Fred Wright for the crash that brought the Slovenian's hopes of taking the Vuelta lead to a bloodied early end.
Roglic, the three-time defending Vuelta champion, had shaken off leader Remco Evenepoel and was sprinting for stage victory and bonus points on Tuesday when the accident happened.
Barely 100m from the line, Roglic made contact with Wright, lost control at high speed, smashed onto the tarmac and suffered injuries that forced him to abandon.
"This was not okay," Roglic said in an interview published on the web site of his Jumbo-Visma team, singling out Wright, a Briton who rides for the Bahrain team.
"The way this crash happened is unacceptable. Not everyone saw it correctly. The crash was not caused by a bad road or a lack of safety but by a rider's behaviour. I don't have eyes on my back. Otherwise, I would have run wide. Wright came from behind and rode the handlebars out of my hands before I knew it."
Roglic fell hard 100m from the finish line. His left knee and hand were covered in blood.
He crossed the line but was clearly in pain and holding his side, before slumping to his knees after he dismounted.
He retired before the next day's stage.
Wright meanwhile continued to ride and finished second in Friday's stage.
"Research shows that the riders' cycling behaviour is to blame for a crash in about half the cases," said Richard Plugge, CEO of Jumbo-Visma.
Plugge co-founded a cross-team 'safety working group', after a crash in a sprint in the Tour of Poland in 2020 that left between Fabio Jakobsen with a fractured skull and earned Dylan Groenewegen a nine-month ban.
"It doesn't surprise me because every rider has the will to win," added Plugge.
"Brake and use your brains."
Roglic said he felt "slightly better" on Friday morning.
He would not say if he thought he would race again this season.
"I can walk a little bit. I am happy with that for the moment".