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Tour de France halted after police pepper spray affects riders

Tour de France halted after police pepper spray affects riders
The Tour de France has been forced to stop temporarily after riders were affected by spray fired by police at protesting local farmers.

Riders were seen pouring water into their eyes amid chaotic scenes during stage 16 on Tuesday, after police took action against farmers protesting along the route using bales of hay and tractors. Some reports stated police had used pepper spray, while others said it had been tear gas. 

The riders were made to wait as police cleared the road with the race 29km into the 218km stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon in southern France.

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.

Police we seen chasing away herds of sheep from the route and also confronting the protesters.

This year’s Tour has also been marked by protests against Team Sky, which includes defending champion Chris Froome. He has been targeted by race fans over allegations of doping over the use of asthma medicine, with some throwing liquid over the rider and others spitting on him and slapping him.