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Pepper spray causes eye health concerns for Tour de France riders

Cyclists forced to pause mid race after their vision was affected by toxic cloud created by the police

26 Jul 2018 by John White

Professional cyclists on the Tour de France were forced to stop mid-race to clean their eyes after pepper spray affected some of the riders’ vision.

The incident took place on Stage 16 of the historic cycling grand tour of France. Around 30km into the route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, French farmers sought to disrupt the race by blocking the road using bales of straw.

Pepper spray was used by French police against the protestors. However, it is understood that the pepper spray drifted into the face of the cyclists, causing general director of the Tour Christian Prudhomme to pause the stage.

Cycling magazine, Cycling Weekly, reported that, “It wasn’t the bales that caused the problem, with the race instead having to be stopped after a police officer’s pepper spray blew back into the eyes of some of the riders at the rear of the peloton. Although it wasn’t in the way that the protesters had intended, the race had to be stopped for around 20 minutes as various riders cleaned out their eyes.”

Associated Press photographers at the scene captured five-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome and other riders applying eye drops. Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas was also pictured using water to clean his face.

Speaking after the race, Chris Froome said: “I just sprayed some water in my eyes and face. My throat, nose and eyes were burning afterwards, but I think quite a lot of riders were in a similar situation, so we were all grateful for the temporary neutralisation just to have a couple of kilometres to clear our eyes, nose and throat out and then the race continued again.”

Image credit: Getty

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