Geraint Thomas extends Tour de France lead | Wales

French farmers bring Tour de France to standstill with protest

Froome was among a large group of riders whose eyes needed treatment due to the tear gas.

A gendarme sprays tear gas at protesters as other gendarmes remove haystacks from the route, during a farmers' protest blocking the stage's route. Two key crashes on risky descents.

The Tour de France was briefly halted after cyclists were hit with pepper spray as police broke up a protest.

Bales of hay blocked the road 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) into the 218-kilometer stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Much was made of Wednesday's short stage and how explosive it could be for the overall standings.

Dan Martin was the rider who sparked Nairo Quintana's winning move on stage 17 of the Tour de France, but the UAE Team Emirates rider could do nothing when Quintana surged on ahead of him.

Green jersey points leader Peter Sagan was also seen accepting eye drops from race staff.

Four-time champ Chris Froome said he "just felt throat and nose were burning, eyes were burning afterwards". I'm going to take it day by day. "Thankfully the effects didn't last long but temporarily everything was stinging and burning but it wore off pretty quickly". "It was just a temporary thing with stinging and burning". After fans threw flares at riders in the climb to the ski resort of Alpe d'Huez, Tour organizers banned the use of smoke flares for the rest of the race. It's really appreciated that you get support in these hard moments. It's not like football or something.

"For anyone to beat Team Sky this week they will have to beat Geraint and they will have to beat me and they will have to do it at the pointy end of the Tour". "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.

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

Despite finishing around 9 minutes behind Alaphilippe, Thomas retains the yellow jersey, maintaining his 1 minute and 39 second advantage over teammate Chris Froome in general classification.

Britain's Adam Yates launched an attack and crested the climb solo but crashed on the tricky descent with seven kilometres to go.

"I knew the finale was tricky", Alaphilippe said. Yet when he arrived back at his team bus and responded to questions in French, he seemed dazed by the stage, a demeanour that was perhaps partly attributable to his collision with a policeman as he rode down from the finish.

The Tour de France is several weeks of gruelling cycling and a test of strength, both physical and mental, that it's any wonder people come out alive doing it. Philippe Gilbert managed to break his knee cap and cycle for another 60km.

"I imagine we'll be able to finish it off".

It was a gift, but Alaphilippe didn't care as he cruised to his second stage win of this year's Tour.

Spain's Gorka Izagirre took second place and Yates finished third, 15 seconds behind.

"The road should remain free, we are not going to lock the riders in a stadium or on a tennis court", he said.

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