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

Arnold Nichols
July 29, 2018

Yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome were among a number of Tour de France riders affected by a spray used by police to break up a farmers' protest which caused stage 16 of the race to be stopped.

Tom Dumoulin is keeping hope but considers the Tour de France win nearly impossible given how race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky) has been unflappable so far.

Thomas burst away from Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin at the end of a punishing final ascent of the Col de Portet to finish third behind Quintana and Dan Martin in Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Thomas remained 1 minute, 39 seconds ahead of four-time champion Froome, with Dumoulin 1:50 back.

A police officer pepper sprays a protester as another protester stands in front of the race director's auto during stage 16 of the Tour de France, a 218-kilometer ride from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

He may be the defending champion, but Froome will now be riding in service of Thomas for the rest of the Tour. We can't recon all of these stages and you don't know what's coming up on some of these corners, but it must have been a bit damp and I came down and that's all there is to it.

Sprinter Fernando Gaviria also claimed two stage victories earlier in the race in his first Tour.

"I went through some hard moments in the first part of this Tour and lost some time", said Quintana, who is fifth overall.

"Froomey said on the radio @ maybe 5K or 4K to go that he wasn't feeling super", Thomas said.

A gendarme sprays tear gas at protesters as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route during a farmers protest who attempted to block the stage's route during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling

Froome is attempting to match the Tour record of five victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

It was just another bump in the road for Froome, who said after Stage 17 that he'll ride in support of teammate and overall leader Geraint Thomas.

Froome said he was grateful that the race had been neutralised to allow riders to recover.

Welshman Thomas will start Thursday's 18th stage, a mainly flat 171 km ride from Trie-sur-Blaise to Pau with a 1:59 lead on Sunweb team leader Dumoulin, with Froome in third.

"Thomas was stronger than I was and I have to deal with that", he said.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme called on spectators to behave themselves, given the already risky nature of the event - evidenced by Philippe Gilbert's crash when leading on Tuesday that ultimately led to the Quick-Step Floors man withdrawing from the race.

"If a Team Sky jersey crosses that finishing line in Paris on Sunday and it's one of us on the podium winning the Tour, as far as we are concerned, that's job done", he said.

The incident came a day after police used tear gas to disperse a farmers' protest that had blocked the road with bales of hay.

The events of stage 16 did highlight again, though, just how vulnerable the riders are.

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