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Riders hit by tear gas on Tour de France

Riders hit by tear gas on Tour de France

French rider Julian Alaphilippe of Team Quick-Step won Stage 16 of the Tour de France after the race was disrupted for 15 minutes by protesters.

He lost 52 seconds to his Sky team-mate, who will surely now be confirmed as their No 1 rider despite the team's previous insistences that they would share their load equally - Froome has slipped to third, two minutes and 31 seconds off the lead compared to Dumoulin, who is just under two minutes away.

Thomas remained 1 minute, 39 seconds ahead of four-time champion Froome, with Dumoulin 1:50 back.

"Briton Geraint Thomas, who is in the leader's yellow jersey, four-time victor and team-mate Chris Froome, and world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia were among those affected", the BBC notes.

Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas hopes there are no repeats of the protests that marred the early part of Tuesday's 16th stage.

This year's Tour de France has been marked by a series of incidents on the sidelines of the race, including abuse directed at Team Sky and four-time champion Chris Froome.

"This was all I had, this was all we had today", Dumoulin continued.

Froome, who had been aiming for a fourth consecutive Grand Tour victory after triumphing at the Vuelta a Espana last year and this year's Giro d'Italia, is now in a battle for a podium place.

"It was a tough day, an intense day, but I've got no regrets", Froome said.




"I don't know how you prepare", Thomas says.

No danger then of this being a repeat of the uneasy relationship between Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins during the latter's victory in the 2012 Tour.

"We feel safe. Obviously on some of the climbs not everyone's our fans but we don't feel threatened", Thomas said.

"I was feeling really good and it was all about just defending that lead".

But the Welshman was one of several riders left requiring treatment after tear gas got in his eyes and throat when national gendarmes sprayed tear gas in a bid to clear protesting farmers from the road, which they had blocked with bales of hay around 26km into the 218km ride. His team shared a supportive message on Twitter, and so did Team Sky.

"My first experience of the Tour de France was in 1999", he said.

For most of us riding a bike is a leisurely thing to do, even at a most intense it's usually just a cycle to work, a bit of exercise, or pretending we're moving because we're actually just on a machine in the gym.

"On a 200-kilometer stage, riders probably won't attack on the first climb". Jeff Pachoud / AFP/Getty Images Great Britain's Geraint Thomas, right, wearing the leader's yellow jersey, and other riders wait for the race to resume.

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