Alaphilippe wins protest-hit stage, Thomas keeps Tour lead

Ruben Holloway
July 25, 2018

Philippe Gilbert amazingly got back on his bike after this terrifying crash over a wall on Stage 16 of the 2018 Tour de France.

Riders, including overall leader Geraint Thomas, were hit as police aimed tear gas and pepper spray at protesters who were blocking the road.

Four-time champion Froome, race leader Geraint Thomas, and world champion Peter Sagan were among those affected.

A protestor faces French gendarmes during the 16th stage of the Tour de France.

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.

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After a 15-minute interval the race resumed with a short neutralised section before the flag was dropped once again 33km into the stage.

Thomas still leads his Team Sky mate and defending champion Chris Froome by 1 minute, 39 seconds and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin by 1:50 going into Wednesday's 17th stage, a brutal 65-km, up-and-down trek from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Just a few miles after the start of the race between Carcassonne and Bagnères-de-Luchon, in the southwest of France, local French farmers demonstrating against a decrease in their financial support tried to block the Tour de France by loading bales of hay on the road.

Frenchman Pierre Latour, who wears the white jersey for the best young rider, said he noticed police were using tear gas when he arrived at the road blockade.

Immediately after the F1-style start riders head straight into the mountains as they make their ascent up the Col de Peyresourde (1,569 metres).

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"I crashed and it was all my fault".

"Please respect the riders, even if you have a cause to fight for", said Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

The last time a Tour stage was blocked by a demonstration was in 2004. "I've took more risks on more technical descents before and never had any problems. It's bike racing", the said Alaphilippe.

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.

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