Tour de France interrupted when riders run into bales of hay and tear gas

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome applies eye drops after police inadvertently sprayed tear gas onto the course. (AP)

As if traversing the Pyrenees from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon wasn’t grueling enough for Tour de France competitors racing Tuesday’s 16th stage, riders also ran into bales of hay placed by protesters and tear gas sprayed by police during the 218-kilometer leg through the mountains.

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.

The tear gas? Well, that came from a French police officer who sprayed protesters, only to have the wind send it back into the officer’s face and the faces of cyclists 30 kilometers into Tuesday’s race.

Tour leader Geraint Thomas and four-time champion Chris Froome were among those impacted by the gas, respectively seen pouring water into his eyes and applying eye drops to counter the chemical.

It took 15 minutes for officials to treat riders and clear the area before the race resumed. The Tour’s official Twitter account warned protesters they could face up to three years in prison for interrupting.

This latest interruption came two days after a rider was banned from the race for punching an opponent in the face, which also seems less than ideal when you’re riding a bike up a mountain.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!