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REDON, France – The Tour de France riders put their collective foot down one kilometre into the fourth stage on Tuesday – literally – bringing the race to a halt for about a minute in a silent protest for safer racing conditions after numerous crashes.

They then rode the next 10 kilometres at a snail’s pace.

Massive pile-ups have marred the first three days of racing, and the numerous incidents have left riders bruised and angry, and team officials fuming.

On Saturday, a roadside spectator holding a cardboard sign and facing away from the riders at a television camera sent a large number of riders to the ground, and another huge pile-up occurred in a nervy finale on narrow roads on Monday.

Some of the top guns, including 2018 champion Geraint Thomas and last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic, crashed in separate incidents on Monday.

The riders’ union (CPA) on Tuesday asked for more respect from the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and from organisers.

“Following the crashes during the third stage of the Tour de France, the riders have been discussing how they wish to proceed to show their dissatisfaction with safety measures in place and demand their concerns are taken seriously,” the CPA said in a statement.

“Their frustration about foreseeable and preventable action is enormous.”

The CPA asked the UCI to set up discussions on the so-called “three km rule” which states that on flat stages, timings are taken three kilometres from the finish in the event of any mechanical problems or crashes.

Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert said the riders had asked that the timings be taken five kilometres from the line for Monday’s third stage because of a dangerous section four kilometres short of the finish. He said their request was turned down.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)