Tour de France stopped after pepper spray hits riders during roadside protest

The Tour de France temporarily came to a standstill Tuesday after protesters stormed a road during Stage 16, leading to a number of riders inadvertently getting hit with what appeared to be pepper spray or tear gas.

Initial reports appeared to suggest a police officer used pepper spray or tear gas to fend off protesters who were trying to throw bales of hay onto the road -- and, in the process, managed to hit several riders.

Riders with Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey Britain's wait on the road after a farmer's protest interrupted the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 218 kilometers (135.5 miles) with start in Carcassonne and finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon, France, , Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Riders with Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, wait on the road after a farmer's protest interrupted the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France.  (AP)

“The police had to use tear gas on the protesting farmers…some of which has gone into the eyes of the riders, so the race has stopped for now,” Team Dimension Data, one of the teams racing, tweeted when the race came to an abrupt stop.

Several riders, including four-time champion Chris Froome, had to have their eyes treated after a protest by local farmers brought the race to a halt with riders en route from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Britain's Chris Froome treats his eyes for tear gas or pepper spray sprayed on the peloton when a farmer's protest interrupted during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 218 kilometers (135.5 miles) with start in Carcassonne and finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon, France, , Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Four-time champion Chris Froome was among several riders who have had their eyes treated for tear gas or pepper spray sprayed on the peloton.  (AP)

Yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas was also pictured dousing his face in water.

As police removed the bales blocking the road, the riders affected received medical treatment while those unaffected were seen going back to their cars for food or taking a break at the side of the road.

The race restarted around 15 minutes later.

Race organizers have had trouble controlling crowds with fans getting out of hand on the most famous climbs of the Tour.

Last Friday, a spectator threw a smoke bomb into the peloton as it passed by.

Nobody was harmed, unlike a day before when a fan’s camera strap appeared to snag Vincenzo Nibali’s handlebars on Alpe d’Huez. He slammed to the ground and broke a vertebra.

Nibali's accident occurred in a cloud of yellow smoke set off by spectators, with two police motorbikes not much more than a couple bike lengths in front of the stage leaders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang