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Tour de France halted after police pepper spray affects riders

29 July 2018

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas has increased his lead in the Tour de France courtesy of a third-place finish in stage 17 this afternoon.

Thomas burst away from Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin at the end of a punishing final ascent of the Col de Portet to finish third behind Quintana and Dan Martin in Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Jul 25 2018 12:28 am CET The 16th stage of the Tour de France has been the first day in the Pyrenees and despite the lack of attacks in the peloton, the breakaway displayed a good performance that even included some worrying crashes.

His team mate Chris Froome, who was hoping to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time, the Tour, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana, cracked on the final ascent up the Col de Portet and finished 1:35 down on the stage victor. We don't feel unsafe, it's just unfortunate sometimes but I think everyone is doing the best they can.

Yorick Jansens  Global Look Press
Yorick Jansens Global Look Press

"I've felt really good in the last two or three days, that's a really good sign".

While mountain stages in the Tour are traditionally more than 150 kilometers (100 miles) or longer - sometimes beyond 200 kilometers - this Tour features two legs that are relative sprints by comparison.

"The Tour is promoted as the world's greatest annual global sporting event and if that's what you want to host and if you want the best riders in the world to come to your country to take part, then maybe treat them with a little more respect", he said.

In a freaky postscript to a dramatic day in the Pyrenees, Froome was riding off the top of the final climb of the day - the Col du Portet - after the race had finished when he was grabbed by an over officious gendarme.

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The Tour de France 16th stage re-started on Tuesday after a brief halt when national gendarmes used tear gas near the peloton to break up a protest by farmers. "I think that's the main reason for our success so far at this Tour".

"I want to say that I'm happy to be here after that tough moment", he said.

"Thomas has been the strongest, and that's the situation now", Dumoulin said.

It was in the same descent that Italian Fabio Casartelli crashed and died in the 1995 Tour de France.

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At one point it looked like going the other way, with Froome following an attack by LottoNL-Jumbo's Roglic midway up the climb, leaving Thomas to sit on the wheel of Dumoulin as the Dutchman worked to shut down the move.

The race continued after the brief hiatus. "It's basically up, down, up, down, up - 2 1/2 hours full gas racing", says Geraint Thomas, the Team Sky rider wearing the yellow jersey.

"On a 200-kilometer stage, riders probably won't attack on the first climb".

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Tour de France halted after police pepper spray affects riders