Tour de France interrupted by protesters and tear gas

BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France, July 24 (Reuters) - A protest by local farmers brought stage 16 of the Tour de France to a halt on Tuesday as bales of hay were thrown on to the road on the route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon and police tear gas blew into the faces of some of the riders.

The gas was used to disperse the protesters but it ended up blowing in the direction of the peloton, which led to the race being stopped at the 187 km-to-go point.

The race continued after the brief hiatus.

Photos of the incident: 

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Tour de France interrupted by farmers' protest and police tear gas
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Tour de France interrupted by farmers' protest and police tear gas
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - A police officer pepper sprays a protester as another protester stands in front of the race director's car. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, cleans his eyes. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Police officers carry a protester off the road as the peloton passes. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - The peloton passes hay bales after a protest. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Police officers run after a protester. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Bahrain-Merida rider Sonny Colbrelli of Italy cleans his eyes after a protest. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale rider Daniel Felipe Martinez of Colombia cleans his eyes after a protest. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - BORA-Hansgrohe rider Pawel Poljanski of Poland cleans his eyes after a protest. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Lotto Soudal rider Jasper De Buyst of Belgium cleans his eyes after a protest. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow�jersey, clean his eyes. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow�jersey, clean his eyes. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Cycling - Tour de France - The 218-km Stage 16 from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon - July 24, 2018 - Police officers carry a protester off the road. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
TOPSHOT - A gendarme (L) sprays tear gas at protesters (R) as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route, during a farmers' protest who attempted to block the stage's route, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. - The race was halted for several minutes on July 24 after tear gas was used as protesting farmers attempted to block the route. (Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
Gendarmes remove haystacks from the route as the pack rides behind, during a farmers' protest who attempted to block the stage's route, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. - The race was halted for several minutes on July 24 after tear gas was used as protesting farmers attempted to block the route. (Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester (R) holding a placard reading 'For the Piege region to live' faces a gendarme (C) during a farmers' protest who attempted to block the stage's route, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. - The race was halted for several minutes on July 24 after tear gas was used as protesting farmers attempted to block the route. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Gendarmes remove haystacks from the route as the pack rides behind, during a farmers' protest who attempted to block the stage's route, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. - The race was halted for several minutes on July 24 after tear gas was used as protesting farmers attempted to block the route. (Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
Straw remains on the route after gendarmes (Rear) removed haystacks during a farmers' protest who attempted to block the stage's route, during the 16th stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon, southwestern France, on July 24, 2018. - The race was halted for several minutes on July 24 after tear gas was used as protesting farmers attempted to block the route. (Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, FRANCE - JULY 24: Daryl Impey of South Africa and Team Mitchelton-Scott / Peloton stopped due to manifestation and launched tear gas / Landscape / Peloton / during the 105th Tour de France 2018, Stage 16 a 218km stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon on July 24, 2018 in Bagneres-de-Luchon, France. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas and world champion Peter Sagan were among the riders rinsing their eyes after the incident, which stopped the stage for 15 minutes.

It is not the first time that protesters have interrupted a prominent race, the most memorable incident happening in the 1984 Paris-Nice, when French great Bernard Hinault punched one of the demonstrators. (Reporting by Julien Pretot Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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