Published: Tue, July 24, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Tour De France Briefly Halted After Riders Are Pepper-Sprayed Amid Protest

Tour De France Briefly Halted After Riders Are Pepper-Sprayed Amid Protest

Lappartient spoke to Reuters in Carcassonne before the start of the 16th stage of the Tour, which was briefly brought to a halt as bales of hay were thrown on to the road by protesting farmers and police tear gas blew into the faces of some of the riders.

The police source confirmed the race was stopped because the organizers wanted the gas to disperse to avoid any other riders being affected.

Team Sky cyclists Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have sent a powerful message to their Tour de France rivals as the famous race enters its most critical stages.

Wearing the yellow jersey on the Tour de France is obviously an wonderful experience for any rider, but it comes with increasing pressure for Geraint Thomas as he is now in a position to win the greatest race in cycling.

Riders including race leader Geraint Thomas were seen pouring water into their eyes after the incident, which resulted in a delay of around 15 minutes.

Sprinters Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands, winners of two stages each, abandoned the race during Thursday's stage ending atop the iconic Alpe d'Huez, exhausted after an opening block of racing in extreme heat.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 13th stage of the Tour de France.

The Italian used heavy-handed tactics when Gesbert tried to help his team leader, Warren Barguil, join an early breakaway, officials said.

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Frenchman Pierre Latour, who wears the white jersey for the best young rider, said he noticed police were using tear gas when he arrived at the road blockade.

Thomas and Froome will now enjoy Monday's rest day before the intriguing intra-team battle for yellow resumes on Tuesday, with three tough days in the Pyrenees having the potential to be decisive.

The incidents make teams anxious fans are getting out of hand on the most famous climbs of the Tour.

In 2017 he was suspended for six weeks and sent on a diversity awareness course after racially abusing FDJ's Kevin Reza during the Tour de Romandie, while in June this year he was cleared of deliberately causing a crash with Reza's team-mate Sebastien Reichenbach - an incident which was alleged to be related. "I took Kristoff's wheel for the sprint", said Sagan.

Froome has said all along he was aiming to come good in the third week, but dismissed the idea that he was plotting points on the race route to attack Thomas. "It's pointless, and he mustn't forget everything that France and the Tour de France have given him".

"Like I said, if it's verbal it's fine as long as it doesn't affect the race", said Thomas, who leads teammate and fellow Briton Chris Froome by 1 minute, 39 seconds.

"We need to restore calm and respect all the riders", Prudhomme said.

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