Tour de France: stage 16 sabotaged by protesting farmers

Thomas and Froome amongst riders affected by police pepper spray - Gallery

Not quite 30km into the day, stage 16 of the Tour de France was halted for 15 minutes after a roadside protest. Farmers rolled hay bales onto the road to narrow and a number of riders needed treatment for problems with their eyes, apparently due to police using pepper spray or tear gas to try to control the protesters.

Race leader Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome (Team Sky), Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), Taylor Phinney (EF – Education First), Arnaud Demare (Groupama FDJ), Heinrich Haussler (UAE Emirates), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida), Omar Fraile (Astana), Rory Sutherland (UAE Emirates) and Daniele Martinez (EF-Education First) were amongst those clustered around the medical car at the back of the field, getting bottles of water to flush out their visibly puffy eyes.

No one was reported injured by the falling bales or crashing due to the incident. The farmers were apparently protesting against recent changes to so-called disadvantaged and difficult to farm areas.  

The stage was initially neutralised, before the peloton was stopped to allow riders to be treated. After 15 minutes or so the race started again. 

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