The Tour de France took an unexpected detour through a haze of tear gas Tuesday, forcing the race to a standstill as riders frantically washed their eyes out on the side of the road.
French police inadvertently exposed the Tour de France riders to the noxious gas, which they had used to disperse protesters tossing bales of hay into the bikers’ paths, according to news reports and accounts from onlookers at the world’s most famous bike race.
The protest had been organized by disgruntled farmers who wanted to get the attention of the French government, according to police.
But they ended up getting the attention of the Tour de France riders, who were forced to dismount their bikes and rinse out their eyes using water bottles and eye drops. A few of the riders reportedly received minor medical treatment after exposure to pepper spray, and the race, now in its 16th stage, was delayed for about 15 minutes.
It’s been a rough week for the cyclists’ visages — on Sunday, an Italian rider was disqualified in the 15th stage for punching a French rider in the face.
Tour de France’s own Twitter feed blamed the race halt on protesters and warned that putting riders in danger can come with prison time.
Cover image: Britain's Chris Froome grimaces after he treated his eyes for tear gas or pepper spray sprayed on the peloton when a farmer's protest interrupted during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 218 kilometers (135.5 miles) with start in Carcassonne and finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon, France, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. AP Photo/Peter Dejong.