Tour de France is STOPPED after police fire tear gas at protesting French farmers – leaving riders pouring water into their eyes
- The Tour de France was halted during stage 16 on Tuesday after a farmers’ strike caused chaos on the route
- Police tried to disperse protestors with tear gas, which drifted on the air and ended up affecting the riders
- British duo Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome were among the cyclists that were forced to clean their eyes
- Bales of hay were rolled in the road after farmers parked their tractors alongside the course in demonstration
The Tour de France has been thrown into chaos after riders were hit by tear gas when police were forced to clear away protesting farmers who blocked the cycle route using hay bales and tractors.
All the race’s riders were forced to wait as police cleared away the striking farmers on a narrow country road on stage 16.
But some of the competitors – including Great Britain’s Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas – were hit by the gas and forced to clean out their eyes.
The French farmers had parked tractors by the side of the route and rolled hay bales into the road to stop the race, which was roughly 18 miles in after starting an hour earlier.
The race between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, in the country’s southwest, resumed after a 15-minute delay while the protesters were dealt with.
It comes after Dave Brailsford hit out at fans for spitting at Chris Froome and booing Geraint Thomas during the race.
The Team Sky boss said their behaviour must be ‘a French cultural thing’ as he tore into the spectators over their treatment of his riders.
The Tour de France was halted on Tuesday after 30km of stage 16 after a farmers’ protest that blocked the route of the race
A police officer sprays a tear gas canister at a protesting farmer during the Tour de France disturbance today. Some of the gas ended up in the eyes of riders
Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain cleans his eyes after tear gas was used by policemen against the farmers protesting during the race
Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas cleans his eyes after tear gas was used during a farmers’ protest who attempted to block the stage’s route
Police tried to move protesters from the road after French farmers had parked tractors and rolled hay bales onto the course
Gendarmes detain a protesting farmer as the pack rides behind during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France
Gendarmes remove haystacks that were placed on the stage’s route, during a farmers’ protest who attempted to block the race, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France
Gendamres battle with protesters to remove hay bales from the cycling route during a farmers’ protest. The race had to be stopped while the disturbance was dealt with
Riders clean their eyes after tear gas was used during a farmers’ protest who attempted to block the stage’s route during the Tour de France
British duo Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome (pictured) were among the riders who were also forced to protect their eyes after police sprayed the protesters in a bid to remove them from the road
During the farmers’ demonstration, one protester held up a sign reading ‘For the Piege region to live’ as they attempted to block the stage’s route.
Protests from farmers are a regular occurrence during the Tour de France. In 1974 protesters in Brittany blocked roads and hung pigs from lampposts to show their opposition to the race.
But Tuesday’s events, combined with the response, have taken the usual outcry from locals to a whole new level.
It continued an incident-filled edition of the Tour. In the past fortnight, Froome has been cuffed by one fan and spat at by another.
Froome also had an unidentified substance thrown at him.
A protester holds a placard reading ‘For the Piege region to live’ during a farmers’ protest who attempted to block the stage’s route
A protesting farmer is detained during the disturbance between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon at the Tour de France
The pack of riders waits for the stage to resume, after tear gas was used during a farmers’ protest who attempted to block the stage’s route
Team Education First Drapac Cannondale rider Simon Clarke of Australia cleans his eyes after tear gas was used by policemen against the farmers
He was also inspected by a woman wearing disposable gloves after tear gas was sprayed at protesters and ended up drifting into the eyes of riders
Riders sit after General Director of the Tour de France, France’s Christian Prudhomme (Rear L) halted the race, following a farmers’ protest
Thomas, also a member of Team Sky, has been regularly booed whenever he has been presented with the yellow jersey at the end of a stage.
On Monday, Sir Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky manager, suggested the hostile reaction to his team was a ‘French cultural thing’ after a 21-year-old female member of their staff was spat at by those watching the race.
He said: ‘It’s interesting. We raced in Italy and Chris’s case was open when we were at the Tour of Italy and the Italians were fantastic, to be fair to them. The Spanish, fantastic. It just seems to be a French thing.
‘It’s like a French cultural thing really, isn’t it? That’s it. I’m not sure that they would have liked their football players spat at in Russia [at the World Cup].
‘It’s a shame, but we’re not going to let it distract us.’
Protests from farmers are a regular occurrence during the Tour de France. In 1974 protesters in Brittany blocked roads and hung pigs from lampposts to show their opposition to the race. Pictured: Protesters with a flock of sheep today
A policeman holds a baton and tear gas spray as protesting farmers reach over bales of hay used to the Tour de France
On Thursday last week a chaotic finish to the ski station at Alpe d’Huez saw Froome shoved and spat at by roadside fans.
A spectator also threw a flare at the Team Sky riders during stage 13 of the race on Friday.
Meanwhile, Thomas has been booed off the podium and some of Sky’s staff have also faced abuse during the opening 15 stages.
Froome was initially barred from starting his title defence by organisers because of the suspicion surrounding his ‘adverse analytical finding’ for the asthma drug salbutamol at the Tour of Spain last year.
The Kenyan-born Briton had double the permitted amount of the drug in his sample when he won the race in 2017.
Yet days before the Tour, the International Cycling Union (UCI) cleared Froome to race.
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