Alaphilippe wins protest-hit stage, Thomas keeps Tour lead

Chris Froome

"Looks like the tear gas used by the police on the farmers ended up getting to the eyes of some riders", tweeted the Quick-Step Cycling team.

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

The most feared stage of this year's Tour de France is underway.

Loïc Albert, a farmer from the Ariège who took part in the demonstrations, spoke to news source France 2: "I heard that the Tour stopped a little bit further along from us because of gas, but that wasn't us".

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On Wednesday, the riders race across the Pyrenees in a short, mountainous stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan. "I think we're all grateful for temporary neutralization and to clear, to have a couple of (kilometers) to clear our eyes, nose out, then the racing continued again".

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 riders' job is extremely unsafe, they are taking risks every day, people should not block the road, no matter what causes they are fighting for". Froome is in second place and Tom Dumoulin is in third place.

Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert was leading when he crashed earlier in the stage while descending from the Col de Portet-d'Aspet, hitting a wall and flipping off his bike spectacularly.

"It's pure happiness after a day of suffering", said Alaphilippe, who tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.

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BAGNERES DE-LUCHON, FRANCE-Four-time champion Chris Froome was among riders whose eyes needed treatment for tear gas when a farmer's protest interrupted the 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday.

He was gaining time in the descent when Yates went down.

Though he rode to the finish, the Bora-Hansgrohe rider was expected to go for scans, putting at risk a sixth green jersey which is mathematically his as long as he makes it to Paris. He leads Norway's Alexander Kristoff by 282 points with 270 still up for grabs.

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