With Orica GreenEdge eyeing Stage 5's finale for sprinter Matt Goss, team resources were at a premium towards the end of Tuesday's stage won by Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) with Pieter Weening suffering an untimely mechanical.
Weening entered the fourth stage 45 seconds off the general classification lead of Luca Paolini (Katusha) but a puncture 20km from the finish resulted in the Dutchman 10 seconds off the front group when the peloton rode in to Serra San Bruno.
"The boys did a good job to bring me back to the bunch after the flat tire, but I was on the limit from that moment until the finish," explained Weening who got a wheel from Leigh Howard, while Jens Mouris and Christian Meier stopped to wait before riding with the former Giro stage winner to the finish.
"We have a few riders getting ready for tomorrow's stage," explained sports director Neil Stephens. "We didn't want to make them work too hard today, although they ended up having to work awfully hard just to get to the finish in the end. The length of the stage combined with the climbs and the wet weather during the last hour made it a hard day for everybody."
Weening will start Stage 5 in 16th overall, 55 seconds behind Paolini.
Wednesday's 203km fifth stage features two climbs towards the end, the first to Montescaglioso at 398 metres, followed by a shorter climb 16km later into Matera – custom-made for a stronger sprinter like Goss. The 26-year-old was fifth on the opening stage behind rival Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and took positives from a lead-out the probably went too early.
"Stage one was a good hit out," Goss told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was good for me, for the confidence to see the work the guys could do.
"We probably [went for the sprint] a little too far to go into the headwind for our legs, and gave everyone else a perfect run.
"But live and learn, and stage five should be quite a good one. It's still a tough little finish, but hopefully we should be able to get up there and hopefully not all the other sprinters do."