Steve Morabito comes to this year's Amgen Tour of California as one of the general classification hopes for the BMC Racing Team. The 28-year-old Swiss rider is at his best when the road turns up. "I prefer the climbs," Morabito said. "To try and stay in the top 10 would be a good thing." His recent fifth overall at the hilly Giro del Trentino in Italy marks Morabito as one of the riders to watch in the general classification battle.
Last year, he finished twelfth overall at the Amgen Tour of California. Thanks to his steady progression over the past few seasons, Morabito enjoys increasing support from his team for his ambitions. "I have more liberty. I can ride for the general classification," he explained of his role.
Wednesday’s climbing stage with its difficult finish on Sierra Road offers the first test for the general classification riders. "I don’t know this climb, but I hear it is hard. It seems complicated, the course. I hope the weather will be good, not like the past few days. I will try to do something good," said Morabito.
He is especially happy to see an end, at least for now, to the circuit finishes of the past few stages. "For me, it is more complicated on a stage like today with the rain and lots of riders taking risks," commented Morabito of Monday’s fast, wet finish in Sacramento. "The climbs, you either have the legs or you don’t. It’s simple."
Looking ahead, Morabito will also need to ride well during Friday’s time trial in Solvang if he wants to finish high in the general classification. "I rode it two years ago. It is really hard, up and down. You need fresh legs and lots of power," he explained.
Though the BMC rider has not yet seen the Mount Baldy climb, he has been studying the profile. "The race website is really good," he commented. Looking forward to the challenging finish he said, "I just have to follow the best riders."
After six years as a professional, Morabito counts among his results a top five overall finish at the Tour de Suisse, his home race, a top 10 in the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe and top 10 stage finishes at the Tour de Romandie, Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and the Giro d’Italia.
Earlier this season, a minor back injury forced his withdrawal from Paris-Nice, but he quickly returned to form. Not only did he finish fifth overall at the Giro del Trentino, but also Morabito placed in the top five in the mountainous stages 2 and 3. He hopes to repeat that success as the Amgen Tour of California heads into the hills beginning with Wednesday’s the steep finish on Sierra Road.