Sun-soaked fans watched more than 100 cyclists climb and speed through Angeles National Forest roads and into La Cañada Flintridge on Saturday, near the end of the seventh stage of the annual Amgen Tour of California. The athletes were headed for a finale in Pasadena, where Slovakian Peter Sagan took first for team Canondale in one of the final legs of the event.
“This is religion. You have to be here,” said La Cañada resident Tom Blanton, who rode his bike along the route and waited in the breezy shade for the tour, which began in Santa Clarita in the morning and spanned 88.7 miles.
The road race invites professional cycling teams to ride California’s iconic roads each year in spring. The event aims to raise awareness for resources available to people affected by cancer. The tour got underway May 11 in Sacramento and concluded Sunday in Thousand Oaks, with Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky capturing the overall win.
“This is as close to the Tour de France without going to France,” Blanton said. He sat at the corner of Green Lane and Princess Anne Road, waiting for the cyclists around 2 p.m. when he met fellow cyclist Randy Smith, a Glendora resident and facilities manager at Maranatha High School.
“They go so fast so you have to find a spot where they slow down and you can really enjoy it,” said Smith.
This year, La Cañada streets were included in the Stage 7 route, prompting closures along Green Lane, Princess Anne Road, Commonwealth Avenue, Foothill Boulevard and Berkshire Avenue.
Native La Cañadan Karen Sarian lives on Green Lane and saw the race pass through her neighborhood for the first time Saturday.
“I think it’s inspiring for these kids to watch,” she said, as families set up to cheer for the passing professional athletes, some set up chairs and small picnics.
“It also gives you a chance to see your neighbors. Everybody’s life is so hectic, you just wave, but today you can see you neighbors,” Sarian said.
Glendale resident Linda Robertson was with her family, spending the day by the pool, when they decided to wait for the cyclists to speed by.
“It’s for a good cause and we need to be involved in community activities,” Robertson said.
Follow Nicole Charky on Twitter: @Nicosharki.