Tour de France temporarily interrupted by protesters

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Bagnres-de-Luchon - Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme lashed out at farmers who blocked the 16th stage on Tuesday and forced several riders, including Britain's yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas, to receive treatment for tear gas.

Standing on the side of the road with a herd of about 50 sheep, the farmers threw hay bales on the race route just minutes before the peloton arrived.

Earlier in the stage the race was neutralized after police used pepper spray on a group of protesters - with some of the chemicals reaching the riders and forcing a break in proceedings.

And it could have been that the wind carried that spray into the peloton, affecting several of the riders.

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

"Do not add to danger for the cyclists", Prudhomme said.

"After a 15-minute-long interruption caused by protesters, the race is back on", Tour organizers wrote on Twitter.

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Geraint Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome and third-placed Tom Dumoulin all crossed together almost nine minutes behind. "The race is temporarily neutralized".

Team Sky's Chris Froome reacts after being hit with tear gas.

"My throat, nose and eyes were burning afterwards, but I think quite a lot of riders were in a similar situation", the four-time Tour victor said.

Gendarmes detain a protesting farmer as the pack rides behind 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.

Ahead of the Tour, 33-year-old Froome had been under an anti-doping cloud after he was found to have more than the permissible level of asthma drug salbutamol in his urine at last September's Vuelta a Espaa.

Amid a general feeling of suspicion surrounding Sky and their sheer domination of the race, Froome has been spat at and manhandled, Thomas has been booed off the podium and some of Sky's staff have also faced abuse.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) took the honours after Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) crashed while leading, and the GC battle flickered but never burst into flames.

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