WRIGHTWOOD — Tabletop Mountain Road was lined with Grim Reapers, neon wigs and a blue Smurf on Friday as cycling fans and fanatics cheered for the competitors of the Amgen Tour of California.

The bicycle race was a heated suffer-fest with a climbing finish where Colombia’s Esteban Chaves broke away from the lead group to take the Stage 6 victory. Spain’s David De La Cruz and American Thomas Danielson rounded out the top three.

Hundreds lined the final kilometer along Tabletop Mountain Road in Wrightwood — in a tradition unique to cycling. Fans spilled out into the roadway on the steepest grade to cheer, taunt and get shoulder-to-shoulder with the competitors as they charged toward the finish line.

Neal Thomas traveled from Phoenix to don a neon-yellow wig to cheer riders as they approached the last kilometer of the stage’s final 17-mile climb.

“I do it to stay young” Thomas said. “I turned 60 this year, and this keeps me young.”

Thomas has spent the last 10 years traveling to Europe to chase riders, hoping to make his way into highlight videos. This year he chose to track down the Tour of California before embarking on a bike ride across the U.S.

Chuck Bramwell and Bruce Campbell have been following the tour for four or five years, donning their Grim Reaper masks and gowns to chase down the riders on a steep grade yelling encouragement to some and taunting others. They waved toy scythes as they chased side-by-side with the racers.

Overall race leader Bradley Wiggins of Britain stayed a safe distance behind Chaves, De La Cruz and Danielson spinning up the hill, finishing fifth in the most difficult stage of the eight-day race. He increased his lead by 2 seconds in the overall standings.

The race continues Saturday with an 88.7-mile ride from Santa Clarita to Pasadena.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: vvdailypress.com/articles/climb-46869-frantic-wrightwood.html May 17, 2014 1:33 PM JAMES QUIGG, CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER