A bizarre act of protest caused one of France’s favorite athletic competitions to temporarily shut down when the competitors were accidentally pepper sprayed by police.
The Tour de France, the world’s largest and most prestigious cycling competition, has been interrupted by protestors before, but this event was unprecedented. About 20 farmers who live in the stretch of land in between the French towns of Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon stood by with a herd of sheep as they threw bales of hay into the road, blocking the peloton, the term for the group of riders in competition. The farmers were, apparently, protesting a planned reduction of spending in their area proposed by the European Union.
When police attempted to pepper spray the farmers, they didn’t account for the direction of the wind, and several cyclists caught the draft of tear gas, including favorites like Chris Froome and Pierre Latour. Luckily, the race was only delayed for about 15 minutes, and none of the competitors were seriously disturbed. After all, what’s a little pepper spray after you’ve biked 2,200 miles?