Police officer sprays an unidentified substance towards a protestor, before blowing across the road into the path of the peloton

Tour de France stopped after peloton hit by pepper spray as protesters crash stage 16

French farmers interrupted Stage 16 by throwing bales of hay onto the road, before a policeman appeared to accidently hit riders with pepper spray

Tuesday 24 July 2018 12:37

The Tour de France was stopped after protesters stormed the road during Stage 16, leading to a number of cyclists being hit by pepper spray.

A protest by local farmers brought the race to a halt, on the route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Bales of hay were thrown across the road by protesters in an attempt to disrupt the stage with police using pepper spray in response.

However, the pepper spray appeared to then drift into the face of several cyclists, causing general director of the Tour Christian Prudhomme to briefly pause the stage.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene said Chris Froome and other riders had eye drops applied while stopped for several minutes. Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas was also pictured dousing his face in water.

The race was stopped completely while several riders received medical treatment from the doctor's car at the rear of the peloton.

After a 15-minute interval, the race resumed with a short neutralised section before the flag was dropped once more with 33km of the 218km distance covered.

Farmers' protests are nothing new at the Tour, but the incident will add to the intense security situation in this year's edition.

Team Sky's Froome was jostled and spat at on Alpe d'Huez, while 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali saw his race ended after he was brought down in a tangle with a fan on the same mountain.

Tuesday's stage takes the race into the Pyrenees for the first time as the final week begins, with Thomas looking to hold on to a lead of one minute and 39 seconds over team-mate Froome, with Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.