Insane scenes as Tour de France leaders get tear-gassed

Froome is accustomed to wearing the yellow jersey currently held by his team-mate Thomas

It happened during a protest by French farmers when a bunch of hay bales was thrown across the road just before the peloton arrived. The protesters were arrested and police used pepper spray and tear gas, which inadvertently blew into the faces of some of the riders.

Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas and world champion Peter Sagan were among the riders rinsing their eyes as the stage was stopped for 15 minutes.

Remarkably, he bravely re-mounted his bike and continued the race to complete the dramatic stage.

Famers' protests are common on the Tour but this incident is the latest in a number of security breaches to affect this year's competition.

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Quick-Step cyclist Julian Alaphilippe won the stage.

The only thing lacking from the wild 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday was a shakeup in the overall standings.

Mitchelton-Scott's Yates led on the descent into Bagneres-de-Luchon after attacking three kilometres before the summit of the Col du Portillon, cresting the mountain with a 22-second advantage.

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.

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Tour director Christian Prudhomme condemned the farmers' action and demanded more respect for riders. "People should not block the road, no matter what causes they are fighting for".

"Tactically, we did well, but I crashed and it was all my fault".

While mountain stages in the Tour are traditionally more than 150 kilometres or longer this year's Tour features two legs that are relative sprints by comparison.

The stage taking the peloton from Carcassonne to the spa town of Bagneres-de-Luchon resumed after a 15-minute interruption.

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Quick-Step bosses panicked when Gilbert went over the wall - it was on the same descent, albeit several kilometres below, that Italian Fabio Casartelli died in a terrible crash in 1995.

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