Tour de France temporarily interrupted by protesters

Marcus Newton
July 25, 2018

This year's Tour has also been marked by protests against Team Sky, which includes defending champion Chris Froome.

The Tour de France is several weeks of gruelling cycling and a test of strength, both physical and mental, that it's any wonder people come out alive doing it. Philippe Gilbert managed to break his knee cap and cycle for another 60km.

"The last few days I felt really good, which is a good sign", said Martin. "I've took more risks on more technical descents before and never had any problems".

According to the Associated Press, the hay bales were thrown into the road ahead of the race's lead pack by farmers facing an even more grueling challenge - the reduction of European Union funding.

Geraint Thomas retains his lead at the top of the overall leaderboard, with fellow Briton and Team Sky rider Froome 1 minute and 39 seconds behind.

A gendarme sprays tear gas at protesters as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route, during a farmers' protest blocking the stage's route.

"Please respect the riders, even if you have a cause to fight for", said Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

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To be spat at... personally, I'd have a bit of an issue if that was going on in my country. Maybe if one of them has an off day, you never know.

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Immediately after the F1-style start riders head straight into the mountains as they make their ascent up the Col de Peyresourde (1,569 metres). It was the same descent where Italian rider Fabio Casartelli died in the 1995 Tour.

Froome, race leader Geraint Thomas, and world champion Peter Sagan appeared to be among those affected by the chemical, and were treated with eye drops.

Farmers had blocked the road with hay bales 29km into the 218km stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, and police used tear gas when tackling the protestors in an effort to clear a path. Riders had to slow down when they reached the scene and footage shows them rubbing their eyes after passing through the demonstration. "It's bike racing", the Frenchman said.

However, Quick-Step later announced that Gilbert, a former world champion, was withdrawing from the Tour with a fracture on his left kneecap.

"When you come so close to winning a stage of the Tour it's pretty devastating."

Yates was quickly back on his bike, and followed home Bahrain-Merida's Gorka Izagirre to finish third. "There's definitely going to be some splits".

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