Insane scenes as Tour de France leaders get tear-gassed

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The Quick-Step Cycling team documented the sequence, reiterating that police used the tear gas to clear the protesters, but it ended up getting in the eyes of the cyclists.

A gendarme, left, sprays tear gas at protesters as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route of the Tour de France.

Philippe Gilbert of Belgium receives care during the 16th stage of the Tour de France.

Riders wait on the road after a farmer's protest interrupts stage 16 of the Tour de France.

Team boss Dave Brailsford said they will now plan to make sure Froome joins Thomas on the Tour de France podium: "He's not out of it necessariy, there's a big mountain day to come, and the time trial".

"I knew the last kilometres of the stage".

Julian Alaphilippe won the stage, while Thomas held onto the yellow jersey.

"I crashed and it was all my fault".

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According to a statement from French authorities in the local Aude department, a small group of 20 activists made the intervention to protest a planned reduction of European Union funding in their area.

Their field is the road, the road is open - we can not lock them in a swimming pool or a stadium or in a tennis court. "The riders' job is extremely unsafe, they are taking risks every day, people should not block the road, no matter what causes they are fighting for".

The last time a Tour stage was blocked by a demonstration was in 2004.

His team said that after further tests at a hospital in Toulouse, the fracture was discovered, meaning he had to pull out of the race.

"It's pure happiness after a day of suffering", said Alaphilippe, who tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.

After the Formula 1-style grid start in Bagneres-de-Luchon, which saw overall leader Thomas line up directly ahead of Froome and Dumoulin, it was Estonian rider Tanel Kangert who led the breakaway.

Passing briefly through Spain, the route featured three climbs in the finale _ the Col de Portet-d'Aspet, the Col de Mente and the Col du Portillon _ followed by a downhill finish.