The wonderful world of professional cycling might take you all around the planet, but there's nothing quite like racing on your own turf. "I have raced the Amgen Tour of California three times - 2010 as a neo-pro, 2014 with BMC and 2016 with Trek - and I have the best memories as it is my home race", California-based Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) testifies ahead of a fourth participation in America's unique World Tour event (13-19 May 2018), where he's already proved to be one of the finest climbers the USA can rely on nowadays.
"Racing at home is just extra motivation", Peter Stetina says. "You know all the roads, your family is there, your whole town gets excited for the race. It's the same thing as a French rider for the Tour de France." And for the son of Colorado cycling legend Dale Stetina, it's only justice that American riders get to welcome their foreign rivals after crossing themselves the Ocean to conquer Europe: "We're racing foreign and travelling so much that the one or two times we get to race at home it's a really special occasion. And actually, for an American rider to make the Europeans and the foreigners come to our area and eat our food and race our style, instead of us always doing it the other way, you know it changes the game a little bit and it's fun."
It seems like Peter Stetina could talk forever about the perks of the state he now lives in, sharing his time between Santa Rosa and Lake Tahoe after growing up in Colorado. "California… It's the lifestyle", he spontaneously highlights. "Everyone who comes better get some tacos and some burritos. The beer scene is amazing right now. You can't drink Belgian beer here, you gotta try the West coast IPA. It's a special type of IPA beer that's in the West Coast, in California and Oregon, it's its own style. It's really clear, really floral." In the end, California is "all about good food, good drinks, good views".
Californians as well as visitors also enjoy perfect conditions for cycling training and racing. Moving to the West Coast is "in the back of everyone's mind", Peter Stetina claims, making a strong case for his adoptive state: "As a pro you want to live somewhere where you can train all year round. I grew up in Colorado, which is high altitude, but you travel so much as a pro and when you're actually at home in the winter and you need to train, you still have to travel anyway. And so you kind of start thinking: hey, if I lived in California, there's good weather, there's Sun, there's mountain, there's the ocean, there's high altitude, there's sea level, there's fresh organic food, there's everything."
With such conditions, the Amgen Tour of California is "the race that everyone is fighting to go. It's nice hotels, big beds, amazing views… and fun racing!" But this doesn't mean the 7-day even will just be a nice road trip through California. The race goes back to Gibraltar Road, where Peter Stetina finished second on stage 3 of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. "That's a steep son of b****", the 30 years old climber laughs.
Peter Stetina also knows very well the climb of Kingsbury, included in the Amgen Tour of California's route for the first time ever this year (on stage 6). "I do all my altitude training in Lake Tahoe and I love that climb", Peter Stetina says. "It's gonna be really hard." And that makes him even more impatient to tackle the race.