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Tour de France
Reuter/Stephane Mahe
Police carry a protester off the road.
HAY, HIT THE BRAKES

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

By Johnny Simon

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.

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