Police accidentally tear gas several Tour de France riders amid farmers' protest

A police officer pepper sprays a protester as another protester stands in front of the race director's car. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Stephane Mahe | Reuters
A police officer pepper sprays a protester as another protester stands in front of the race director's car. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Stage 16 of the Tour de France came to a temporary halt Tuesday after farmers threw hay bales into the road as part of a protest, and tear gas used by police to clear the protesters wound up in the eyes of multiple racers.

According to Agence France-Presse, the bales of hay caused a stoppage about 16 miles into the stage's 135-mile route as farmers protested a decline in state aid.

The wire service also reported that tear gas sprayed by French police at one of the protesters was then blown back into a group of riders, who sought treatment to clear their vision.

"After a 15-minute-long interruption caused by protesters, the race is back on," Tour organizers wrote on Twitter.

Four-time champion Chris Froome and overall leader Geraint Thomas were among those trying to clear their eyes before resuming the race, according to multiple reports.

Tuesday's protest was the latest incident in what has been an eventful Tour de France, as fans have expressed outrage about Froome's participation. The British cyclist faced a suspension for using twice the allotted amount of a medication that is typically used to treat asthma, according to the Associated Press, but he was allowed to compete.

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