The peloton slowed to stop about 30 kilometres into stage 18, and it was soon clear that past events were repeating themselves as red smoke billowed ahead of the bunch.
As the five-man breakaway too was brought to a halt by a race moto, the protest evidently enacted between the two groups, TV cameras stayed fixedly on the rear of the peloton as riders took their chance to answer a call of nature.
It was just a few minutes before the road was cleared and the race was underway.
What’s intriguing on this occasion, is that at no point did viewers see any images of the identity or cause of the protest. Our best guess – for now – is that it’s the same group as on stage 10, partly given the coloured flare in use. (And not a bunch of Bradley Wiggins’s pub pals celebrating the tenth anniversary of his 2012 Tour victory, as the man himself joked while on ‘Brad on the bike’ duties for Eurosport-GCN.)
The lack of footage seems to indicate that race organisers and host TV production have refined their protocol since last week. By giving the protest no air time, no room for their slogans, the group gets nothing out of their actions, which presumably the Tour de France organisers hope will put off future events.