Shortly after the start there was an attack by the Italian Simeoni, who did not adhere to the unofficial law that there would be no attack on the first half of the final stage. In addition to the attack by Simeoni, the French national heroes Richardirusenque and Thomas Voeckler drove ahead .
Ten riders attacked on the Champs-Élysées: Sunderland, Merckx, Voeckler, Bettini, Flecha, Jalabert, Pereiro, Gutiérre, Astarloza and Kroon. These drivers were able to achieve a maximum lead of 40 seconds. When the field reached the group, Paolo Bettini attacked from the leading group; the other riders in the group were able to follow him and thus move away from the large field. Karsten Kroon from the Dutch Rabobank Cycling Team pulled away from the top group, but fell back immediately afterwards. After a few kilometers, however, the group was captured. Just before the last lap, Juan Antonio Flecha from the Spanish Fassa Bortolo team attacked , but he was also taken off the field again.