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Tour de France brought to halt as riders sprayed with substance

Joe Robinson
24 Jul 2018

Farmers protest sees riders inadvertently maced by the police

Stage 16 of the Tour de France was brought to a grinding halt after riders were sprayed with a substance while riding past protesting farmers. The race was neutralised and came to a complete standstill as riders frantically dowsed their faces with water.

Upon rewatching the footage, it appeared that a policeman used a mace spray to disperse the small protest, but an inopportune wind took the substance back the other way and sprayed the peloton.

With 187.7km remaining in the stage, the peloton came through the farm field outside of the town of Fanjeaux. Farmers had covered the road in hay bales and partially obstructed the roads with tractors. 

As the riders passed through, television coverage showed policemen holding back the farmers and deploying mace in order to direct them from the road. 

This backfired with the mace appearing to make its way into the peloton, affecting several riders who were making their way through the protest.

Among those affected was Henrich Haussler who was pictured spraying his face with water, clearly struggling to breath.

Riders took the chance to take a comfort break while others headed back towards the team cars to wash off their faces and gather more water bottles.

UCI president David Lappartient was then pictured discussing matters with French police while ASO director Christian Prudhomme also tried to get the situation under control.

After a few mintutes of discussion between Prudhomme, the Gendarmerie and some of the senior figure in the peloton, including Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin and Sylvain Chavanel, the race resumed with a small breakaway escaping.

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