Team Sky survived a testing day in the saddle on stage four of the Tirreno-Adriatico with Juan Antonio Flecha leading the squad home in 23rd place.
It was Androni Giocattoli rider Michele Scarponi who took the victory - and also the leader's jersey - after timing his late breakaway to perfection.
The longest stage of the tour at 243km had begun with sunny conditions in San Gemini and after the usual early attacks Scarponi was eventually joined by five riders, who edged their way clear of the peloton and maintained a lead of nearly four minutes until around 23km to go.
BMC - riding for world champion Cadel Evans - took it upon themselves to haul that advantage back and the lead stood at just over a minute when Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) stepped things up 5.5km from the line.
The Belarusian gave it all he had but eventually cracked on the final cobbled ascent up the Innesto via Madonna degli Angeli and Scarponi chose his moment perfectly to surge past with around 3km to go.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago) and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) gave chase but their attempts proved futile as they were swept up by the peloton on the steep final ascent after Scarponi had held on to triumph by 14 seconds ahead of Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Androni Giocattoli).
Flecha's result meant he climbed to 21st in the general classification, 59 seconds behind Scarponi, with Thomas Löfkvist - who ended the day in 34th - a further 26 seconds off the pace in 32nd.
Sunderland staying positive
After the stage, senior sports director Scott Sunderland admitted Thomas Löfkvist had been disappointed by his own performance but the Australian was happy with the way the team had worked together in testing conditions.
He said: "Thomas was up there at the end but he was just lacking something. He said he'd felt good all day but in that last climb he struggled.
"Maybe it was the distance? Maybe he didn't eat enough? He's not 100% sure what went wrong, but he's pretty unhappy with the way things turned out.
"It was a tough day for the boys out there. Even though it was sunny at the start, the weather soon clouded over and the temperature quickly dropped down from 11 to three degrees.
"To make things worse it then started to rain as the guys were on a 50km downhill section. At those speeds it got really cold for them.
"We're pretty happy with the way things are going though. Everybody's getting stronger with every passing day. Kurt-Asle Arvesen is improving well, so that's great, and everyone's contributing.
"We're still looking for a stage victory but there's still three days to go so we'll see how it goes."
After the stage had reached its conclusion the race organisers announced they would be shortening Sunday's stage from 234km to 164km due to the bad weather in the area. Despite that move, Sunderland is still expecting an equally-challenging day and one which he feels could prove pivotal in the battle for the overall victory.
"It will definitely be another tough day tomorrow," he added. "Even though the stage has been shortened it's still going to be hard slog as there's a mountain pass which rises to around 1,500m. We're going to be well and truly above the snowline up there.
"I think it will be an interesting stage and I'm expecting a lot of fireworks."