By Mark Zalewski in Santa Rosa, California
The finish of the first road stage of the Tour of California was up in the air for about four hours after the conclusion of the race, with officials working long after the riders crossed the line to figure out placings and time.
The reason was that officials and the race organiser made an on-the-road decision to separate the finish of the stage in terms of general classification and stage, due to the harsh weather. The rain-soaked finish in Santa Rosa posed a sprinting threat, and as such there was worry about the effects a crash could have on GC contenders.
This was a direct reaction to the race two years ago when a crash on the same finish circuits jeopardized then race-leader Levi Leipheimer's GC chances.
The official communiqué from the race said, "Due to safety concerns, the extreme nature of the weather, and the technical nature of the circuit the decision was made on the road to take the GC times on the first passage of the finish line and the remaining laps were for raced stage placings. No time bonuses were awarded."
However, due to the communication issues on the road during the stage there was some question as to whether all teams knew of the decision. Astana's Johan Bruyneel said he was uncertain what the final decision was.
The race's technical director Chuck Hodge told Cyclingnews that the decision was made early in the stage and that any announcement was made only discussion by the officials was finished, in order to ensure equity among all the teams.