Tour de France stopped after protesters roll hay into the riders path

Tour de France stopped after protesters roll hay into the riders path

Tour de France stopped after protesters roll hay into the riders path

The incident occurred on stage 16 of the 135-mile route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, roughly 18 miles into the race.

"The police had to use tear gas on the protesting farmers...some of which has gone into the eyes of the riders, so the race has stopped for now", Team Dimension Data, one of the teams racing, tweeted when the race came to an abrupt stop.

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas now leads by one minute and 39 seconds ahead of team-mate Chris Froome.

A gendarme, left, sprays tear gas at protesters as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route of the Tour de France.

It was in the same descent that Italian Fabio Casartelli crashed and died in the 1995 Tour de France.

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It's not the first time protests have affected this year's Tour, though they had previously been aimed at Team Sky and its rider Chris Froome.

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

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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.

The Quick-Step Floors rider got a slice of luck along the way, overtaking leader Adam Yates after he crashed off his bike in the final descent.

According to French media, the small group of farmers from the local Ariege department protested against the reduction of European Union funding.

"Please respect the riders, even if you have a cause to fight for", said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. "I was sad for [Yates] but it could have happened to me, too, because I took a lot of risks".

Quintana's victory came despite two early mechanicals on a 65km stage - the shortest road stage in the Tour for over 30 years - that was created to be explosive from the start.

"This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts", Gilbert said.

Stage 17 is a 65 km trek from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan on Wednesday.

Spanish rider Gorka Izaguirre finished second, 15 seconds behind, and Yates crossed third with the same time.

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