Tear gas from farmer protest halts Tour de France
BAGNRES-DE-LUCHON, France (AFP) — Stage 16 of the Tour de France restarted Tuesday after a brief halt when gendarmes used tear gas near the peloton to break up a protest by farmers.
Bales of hay blocked the road 26 kilometers into the day’s ride from Carcassonne as farmers demonstrated against a cut in state aid.
Among the riders affected by the tear gas was overall leader Geraint Thomas (Sky), who was pictured rubbing his nose following the incident.
Video footage appeared to show liquid being blown back into the advancing peloton after being sprayed by an officer from France’s national gendarmerie against a protestor.
Television images showed Tour de France medical officers handing out eye drops to riders, including green jersey points leader Peter Sagan.
The 218km stage with a finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon and featuring two Category 1 climbs in the Pyrénées restarted at 12:36 p.m. local time after the interruption.
“After a 15 minute-long interruption caused by protesters, the race is back on,” race organizers said in a brief statement.
This year’s Tour de France has been marked by a series of incidents on the sidelines of the race, including abuse directed at Team Sky and four-time champion Chris Froome.
Amid a general feeling of suspicion surrounding Sky and its sheer domination of the race, Froome has been spat at and pushed, Thomas has been booed off the podium, and some of Sky’s staff have also faced abuse.