HAY, HIT THE BRAKES

Photos: Protesting farmers and tear gas halted the Tour de France

Police carry a protester off the road.
Police carry a protester off the road.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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A protest by farmers briefly halted the 16th stage of the Tour de France today (July 24), leaving cyclists idling in the middle of the French countryside and braving a cloud of tear gas.

As the racers were riding from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, protesters upset over reduced EU funding threw bales of hay into the road. Some of the tear gas police used to disperse the protesters wafted in the direction of the cyclists. Chris Froome of Britain, one of the tour leaders, was among the cyclists affected by the gas.

Raucous behavior is not uncommon along the route of the tour, and protests have sprouted up in past years.  French authorities have tried to discourage disruptive behavior, threatening up to three years of prison time for offenders.

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Police moved in to clear the road after the farmers demonstration.
Image: EPA/Yoan Valat
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Police officers carry a protester off the road.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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A protester is removed from the race route.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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Police chase one of the protesters.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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A police officer pepper sprays a demonstrator as another blocks a race director’s car.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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Police officers remove hay bales off the road.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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The peloton at a standstill as the race was halted.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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Team Sky rider Chris Froome (left) of Britain and other riders wait after the race was blocked.
Image: EPA/Yoan Valat
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Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain clears his eyes after tear gas was used by police.
Image: EPA/Yoan Valat
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Rider Simon Clarke of Australia tries to clears his eyes after the tear gas was used.
Image: EPA/Yoan Valat
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Daniel Felipe Martinez of Colombia cleans his eyes.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe
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The peloton passes hay bales after the protest.
Image: Reuter/Stephane Mahe