The Tour de France is an obvious choice for protestors who want a bit of media attention. Some of those dress in fun costumes and chase the riders. Some of the protests this year, though, are a bit more problematic. And when police tear-gassed one group, they accidentally gassed some riders. The race had to be postponed while the riders were treated.
Stage 16 of the race was interrupted by farmers who had blocked the raceway with bales of hay.
“The French farmers had parked tractors by the side of the route and rolled hay bales into the road to stop the race,” The Daily Mail writes, “which was roughly 18 miles into the 135-mile route, having started an hour earlier. Because it happened so early in the race, the riders were still together in one group.”
The stage between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon resumed after about 15 minutes, suggesting that the injuries to the riders was minimal.
The farmers had parked tractors in the road and had dropped large bails of hay to obstruct the race. Police cleared the road, but had a harder time with the people, and so broke out the gas.
Some of the riders, including British duo Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, were close enough to the protestors and police that they, too, received some of the spray.
“During the farmers’ demonstration, one protester held up a sign reading ‘For the Piege region to live’ as they attempted to block the stage’s route,” DM notes.
“The protesters were demonstrating against plans to cut the number of areas classed as ‘disadvantaged’ by the French government and the EU, franceinfo reported. The classification ensures financial aid, without which many farmers fear they will go out of business.”
Blocking the road is a mild protest for the farmers. They’ve made themselves known at many races in the last 50 years. In one protest, they hung pigs from lampposts.