Alexander Vinokourov powered away from the field in the last 500 meters to win Stage 21 of the 2005 Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees. Vinokourov brilliantly countered an attack by Francaise de Jeux’s rider Bradley McGee and held off McGee, Fassa Bortolo rider Fabian Cancellara, and the rest of the field.
I think most people were expecting a mass field sprint. So was I. When the weather turned ugly in Paris in the middle of the afternoon, I expected the stage to be shortened. It turned out that the judges had decided to take the finishing times for the General Classification before the finishing circuits began.
On OLN, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen reported that there would be no time bonuses awarded at the end of the stage today, and that the only thing at stake at the finish would be points for the Sprint competition. We were told that this decision was taken because of the dangerous nature of the finish due to a combination of the weather conditions and the road surface on the Champs-Elysees.
It wasn’t clear what happened after that announcement was made, but at some point the jury of race commissars decided to award time bonuses on the finish line after all. As a result Vinokourov was able to vault over Levi Leipheimer in the General Classification standings into fifth place.
I hope that Team Gerolsteiner was told that the time bonuses would be in effect at the stage finish today, so that they had an opportunity to defend Leipheimer’s G.C. position. I suspect, however, that they either did not get the message from the race commissars, or the decision not to award the time bonuses was reversed after the race ended.