Published: Tue, July 24, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Cyclists hit with spray as Tour halted by protests

Cyclists hit with spray as Tour halted by protests

Froome, the defending champion and Thomas' colleague at Team Sky, is hoping to win the race for the fourth time in a row and also holds the two other Grand Tours, the Vuelta a España and the Giro D'Italia.

Team Sky's Thomas was seen wiping his eyes while Sagan used his water bottles to wash his eyes.

Froome was cleared of a doping offense just days before the start of this year's race, after an investigation that had dragged on since last September, leading some to call for him to be excluded from the race.

The stage between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon had to be neutralised after an attempted protest by local farmers brought a swift reaction from local police.

Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas said being booed by the crowd did not affect him after he enjoyed a mainly comfortable Stage 13 Friday.

Brailsford's insistence that his team was trying to race with dignity came less than 24 hours after their Italian rider Gianni Moscon was expelled from the race for throwing a punch at a French rider from a rival team during stage 16 to Carcassonne.

Cort Nielsen claimed his first career win at the Tour after staying ahead of Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema in a sprint over the final 200 meters. "I insist. We have to let them pass unhindered". "We get on - for now, anyway".

"We are not going to lock the riders in a stadium or a tennis court", Tour director Christian Prudhomme said. "The riders' job is extremely risky, they are taking risks every day, people should not block the road, no matter what causes they are fighting for".

Jeff Pachoud  AFP  Getty Images
Jeff Pachoud AFP Getty Images

"If you don't want them to come, you can maybe have the Tour de France for French teams - that might work - but if you want worldwide teams to come then maybe treat them with the same respect that you'd want for your team". "In stage races, the shorter they are, the better it is".

Unhappy farmers had organized the protest because they "wanted to be seen" by France's Minister of Agriculture, Stphane Travert, according to a police source.

"Like I've said from the start, who know what is around the next corner".

Brailsford, who has been questioned by a British parliamentary inquiry following allegations Sky had breached ethical guidelines by abusing the legal use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE's) for their riders, said he did not expect the abuse to stop.

The small group of farmers from the Ariege department were protesting the reduction of European Union funding, French media reported.

This year's Tour de France has been marked by a series of incidents on the sidelines including abuse directed at Team Sky and Froome.

Sky can not simply afford to fight amongst themselves with Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin sitting just 11 seconds behind Froome.

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