Get to know the Michelob Ultra Podium Ambassadors

Apr 29, 2014
Category: General 

For the riders, one of the perks of victory is climbing on stage to get a kiss and take a picture with the podium girls. It’s a longstanding aspect of cycling culture and the Amgen Tour of California continues that tradition with Michelob Ultra Podium Ambassadors Allison Steinkamp and Joanna Zanella. More than just beautiful faces, Zanella and Steinkamp play an important role as hosts greeting and ushering the riders, city dignitaries and race sponsors on stage to facilitate smooth starting and finish line ceremonies for spectators and fans around the world watching on television. The California natives both seem to have a crush on superstar sprinter Peter Sagan. Let’s find out more about them.    

Insider: How did you become Michelob Ultra Podium Ambassadors at the Amgen Tour of California?

Joanna Zanella: My first Amgen Tour of California was in 2009 after a friend of mine referred me. She said they were looking for a podium girl and to send in my pictures and resume. I did and they called me. I was thrilled.

Allison Steinkamp: In 2012, Ann Asiano, owner and operator of Umbrella Girls USA, approached me about possibly being a podium hostess for the Amgen Tour of California. I researched it a bit and was hooked on the idea. When I received confirmation that I would indeed be a part of America's Greatest Race, I was over the moon with excitement.

Insider: What is your favorite race memory?

Joanna: I am a fan of Peter Sagan so I think my favorite memory is standing on the podium with Allison holding hands as we see Sagan pushing through the finish line as we were screaming our lungs out in Santa Rosa. It's like an adrenaline rush and when he crossed the line (first), we were jumping up and down! We love seeing all the riders do what they do best in every stage, but Sagan is always fun to watch.

Allison: My favorite race memory was my very first podium during the 2012 race and that initial winning kiss that Joanna and I delivered. It was such a thrill since the winner was Peter Sagan plus I was overwhelmed with love and support from my family and friends, who had no idea I would show up on their evening news and morning newspapers. It was a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget!

Insider: Tell us about your interests outside of cycling. What other events or projects do you work on?

Joanna: I love sports In general, but my hobbies are going to the movies with my girlfriends and cooking dinner. I love coming up with new dishes and going to Dodger games. I am also the UFC Español host for all of Latin America as well as a host on Univision Deportes covering all of La Liga Mexicana de Futbol.

Allison: Outside of the cycling realm my hobbies include being a fitness fanatic, finishing up my business degree, some commercial print and promotional modeling as well as enjoying the beauty of my home in San Diego.

Insider: When you’re not traveling with the Amgen Tour of California, what is your favorite place to visit in the Golden State?

Joanna: My favorite place to visit in California has to be San Francisco. I feel like every time I'm there I'm in a different country. I love everything about SF.

Allison: That's a tossup. Can I have two? I would say one of my absolute favorites is Lake Tahoe. It's beautiful year-round and you really can't beat those views. On the flip side, where I reside in San Diego, with the ocean at my doorstep and the wonderfully active rhythm of the people, is really the perfect place to live. Of all the stages we have been to, Santa Barbara was my absolute favorite last year. Such a stunning place plus it was an exciting finish!

Insider: What is your favorite part about being on the road for the Amgen Tour of California? Who is the better driver?

Joanna: My favorite part about being on the road is getting to see the country. The wineries, the fields and views you don't get to see everyday. I have to say that Allison and I are amazing drivers. I've never met another girl that drives just like me. Eyes closed I trust her driving and I don't worry about anything. You can definitely tell who's driving though just by the music. Allison loves country music and I love hip hop so basically if you hear Kenny Chesney, Allison is driving and if you hear Chris Brown you'll know it's me. But we do take turns with music and we try and make who ever is driving the most comfortable. I couldn't ask for a better partner than Allison.

Allison: Jo and I have had some amazing times on the drives to the various stages. From our Vine videos to the views that we've never experienced in our own home state, it's been quite the adventure. We have spent time getting to know each other and in turn really learned more about ourselves. It also gives us that time to reflect on how privileged we are to be in our positions as podium hostesses. As for driving, that's a tossup. Joanna was born and raised in the Los Angeles area so she is more confident driving in that mess of traffic, but I would say we are pretty on par with each other as far as general driving skills go.

Insider: Few people know that Joanna actually served as a translator for the riders on the podium. Joanna, please tell us how this happened and how the role has been helpful for the race and helped make the riders more comfortable?

Joanna: The role started the first year I was a podium host in 2009. Paco Mancebo won a pretty important stage and at the time he spoke little to no English. I think what happened was that every morning I would say “Buenos Dias” to my fellow Spanish speakers. (AEG vice president of communications) Michael Roth comes to me and says, “Joanna, you speak Spanish right?” I said yes I do, so he says, “Come with me.” And just like that I was thrown into the (post-race) press conference sitting next to Paco with about 8 microphones in front of me. And it started with everyone asking questions and me translating Paco’s answers. It was a very nerve-wrecking moment, but ever since then I've translated for some of athletes who need assistance and I love doing it.

Keep up with the lovely ladies on Twitter at @asteinkamp and @JoannaZanella.