Tour De France Paused After Cyclists Accidentally Hit With Police Tear Gas

Dean Simpson
July 25, 2018

A protester is stopped by French police during stage 16 of the Tour de France.

As the race was stopped, TV footage showed riders visibly shaken with some competitors using water to wash out their eyes while others sought out their team cars for medical assistance.

The protestors had rolled large hay bales into the road 29 kilometres into the 218km stage, and then clashed with police who tried to remove them.

"I knew the finale was tricky", Alaphilippe said.

Several riders, including four-time champion Chris Froome, had to have their eyes treated after a protest by local farmers brought the race to a halt with riders en route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

The Tour feed also posted a tweet warning spectators to "respect the riders", as endangering them can lead to up to three years in prison.

A police source told CNN that the farmers organized the protest in order to "be seen" by France minister of agriculture Stephane Tavert.

"This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts", Gilbert said.

According to the Associated Press, the hay bales were thrown into the road ahead of the race's lead pack by farmers facing an even more grueling challenge - the reduction of European Union funding.

Now here was a something that really was particular to French culture - the French love a protest, let's be honest, and particularly so during a Tour de France - but it was not directed at his riders.

Race organizers have had trouble controlling crowds with fans getting out of hand on the most famous climbs of the Tour.

After a nine-month investigation - during which Froome constantly protested his innocence - cycling's governing body the UCI, on the advice of experts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, dropped the case just before the Tour began earlier in July.

Prudhomme says it was irresponsible to further endanger the riders as he pointed to dramatic crashes suffered during the stage by Philippe Gilbert and Adam Yates, who both went down on descents while leading the race in separate incidents.

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