Tour de France 2018: Chris Froome’s eyes were ‘stinging and burning’ after police hit peloton with pepper spray

Froome and his team-mate who leads the race, Geraint Thomas, were among those seen washing out their eyes and receiving treatment while the stage was briefly neutralised

Tour De France 2018 Highlights

Chris Froome said his eyes were “stinging and burning” after police accidentally hit the peloton with pepper spray during a chaotic stage 16 of the Tour de France.

Around 30km into the route from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon, local farmers rolled hay bales on to the road as part of an apparent demonstration. Police quickly intervened but one officer accidentally sprayed in the direction of several riders as he tackled a protester.

Froome and his team-mate who leads the race, Geraint Thomas, were among those seen washing out their eyes and receiving treatment while the stage was briefly neutralised before restarting several minutes later.

Asked if he had ever experienced anything like it before, Froome said: “Not quite to that extent, but obviously I am just glad that everyone is all right – the riders and farmers and police, I think everyone has come out all right from it.

“I just sprayed some water in the eyes and water in the face. My throat, nose and eyes were burning afterwards, but I think quite a lot of riders were in a similar situation so I think we were all grateful for the temporary neutralisation just to have a couple of kilometres to clear our eyes, nose and throat out and then the race continued again.

Chris Froome was caught up in the pepper spray incident

“Thankfully the effects didn’t last long but temporarily everything was stinging and burning but it wore off pretty quickly.”

The race was eventually won by French rider Julian Alaphilippe, who took advantage of falls by Philippe Gilbert and Adam Yates on wet, steep descents to emerge from a mass breakaway.

“We heard about Philippe Gilbert’s crash when he was up in front and alone and then we heard about Yates crashing when he was on his own,” said Froome. “I think it was just a heads up to everyone around us – it’s just a bike race at the end of the day, it’s not really worth risking your lives for it.”

Team Sky managed to negotiate the challenging drop into Luchon safely and will begin Wednesday’s unique 65km stage 17 – made up of three steep climbs and two sharp descents, beginning in a gridded start and finishing on the brutal Col du Portet – with Thomas 1min 39sec clear of Froome, and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin a further 11sec back, in what could be the Tour’s decisive day.

“I think everyone is thinking about tomorrow,” added Froome. “It’s a big stage.”

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