Chris Froome's dream of a fifth Tour de France title fades

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After fans had caused chaos in the Alps by setting off flares, tear gas from police accidentally played havoc with Tour de France riders during the first stage in the Pyrenees on Tuesday.

A police officer pepper sprays a protester as another protester stands in front of the race director's auto during stage 16.

Police eventually moved the bales and combatted the protesters with pepper spray.

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

Sagan was picked up by TV cameras asking the race doctor if the eye drops he was given were permissable by WADA before using them.

Froome finished one minute, 35 seconds behind stage victor Nairo Quintana.

"I'm delighted", said Alaphilippe.

Thomas now leads by one minute and 59 seconds from Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin, with Froome falling to third, two minutes and 31 seconds down after conceding another 48 seconds.

"I always keep a little bit of faith, a little bit of hope but so far over the last two-and-a-half weeks Thomas has been the strongest", Dumoulin said afterwards.

"I felt a tingle in the eyes, and in the back of my throat".

"I didn't want to risk anything".

SAINT-LARY-SOULAN- COL DU PORTET FRANCE- JULY 25 Arrival  Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky  during the 105th Tour de France 2018 Stage 17 a 67km stage from Bagneres-de Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan- Col du Portet 2215m  TDF  on July 25
Tour de France halted after police pepper spray affects riders

A breakaway of 47 riders took shape after the race was briefly interrupted by the farmers' protest.

Martin said that he had struggled slightly at the high altitude, with the race reaching its highest point on the top of the Col du Portet.

"With the headwind, the gas came back to the peloton", rider Pierre Latour told AP.

Yesterday's chaotic events started with a series of fruitless attacks off the front of the bunch, followed by a combination of protesting farmers throwing hay in the way of the cyclists.

"The road should remain free, we are not going to lock the riders in a stadium or on a tennis court", he said. Out of the pack, Greg Van Avermaet was the highest-ranked, but was still 18 minutes behind overall.

"They come from everywhere, and I don't think it is healthy to make it about nationalities", said Lappartient.

"The issue is security and I was trying to bring that to everybody's attention".

The small group of farmers from the Ariege department were protesting the reduction of European Union funding, French media reported.

TOUR DE CONTROVERSY This Tour has been marred by incidents.

In a weird 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.

It was the latest in a series of incidents involving spectators during this year's race, with Team Sky riders being pushed and spat on and 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali having his back broken in a crash when a fan caught their camera strap on his handlebars.

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