The Polish rider was part of a three-rider chasing group at the end of the 229-kilometer stage from which, on the punchy 600-meter kick up towards the line, he was able to show that he still had the legs to race hard, powering to the line before being narrowly nudged out of the podium position.
Małecki was joined by teammate Joey Rosskopf in a large chasing group that caught an early two-rider move after the first of six categorized climbs, the Madonnina del Domm, and it was this 28-rider group that would eventually open up a sizeable 15-minute advantage over the peloton, enough to see them racing for the stage win.
The CCC Team worked well in the breakaway as it rolled over the second and third climbs before entering the finishing circuits around San Daniele del Friuli, that included three ascents of the Monte di Ragogna, a 2.8-kilometer climb with an average gradient of 10.4 percent and pitches of 16 percent in places.
It was after the leaders crossed the finish line for the first time that the race for victory really ignited with Rosskopf initially reacting to the moves before, with Tratnik going up the road, Małecki made his move alongside a handful of others and as the bell rang at the start of the final 26.9-kilometer lap, his chasing group was 50 seconds back.
More attacks saw this group split further with Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling), who went on to take second place, trying to close the gap solo while Małecki continued to dig deep, working hard and showing his good form over the closing kilometers of the day before the final three-man sprint to the line, around one minute 15 seconds behind the stage winner.
After a third day in the breakaway at the Giro d’Italia, Rosskopf was CCC Team’s next rider across the line after riding his own race once the breakaway split for the last time while, behind the GC race saw the peloton in pieces as it eventually came across the line.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“I am really happy with how I raced today. Fourth place at the end of a long and hard stage like this is a good result especially as this is my first Grand Tour and we are now in the final week so some might expect that I’m starting to lose my form. However, I think today I showed that I have been building shape throughout this race and that I can be up there competing for stage wins. It was a really large breakaway and it took a long time to properly form but once we were all together, we worked well as we knew that there was a big chance that we would make it all the way to the finish today.”
“It was really good to have Joey in there with me for most of the day, it definitely helped to have a teammate there especially as a few teams had more than on guy in the group. When we were on the finishing circuits, that’s when the race really heated up but I felt good so I was able to go with the moves and stick in that first chasing group. I was so close to third place so it’s a bit of pity but honestly, I feel good about this result. It’s really promising.”
Stage 16: Udine > San Daniele del Friuli (229km)
Top 3: 1. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain – McLaren ) 2. Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) 3. Enrico Battaglin (Bahrain – McLaren)
CCC Team Top 3: 4. Kamil Małecki 23. Joey Rosskopf 51. Víctor de la Parte