RCS Sport, the organiser of the Giro d'Italia, has announced that time bonuses on offer during stages of this year's race have been cut, while points for the points and mountains jersey have been increased on key stages to help sprinters and pure climbers emerge in the fight for the special classification jerseys.
In a press release, RCS Sport said it was making the changes to make the Giro d'Italia "more exciting from a technical, racing and entertainment point of view" and so in line with "time gaps in modern cycling".
No time bonuses were awarded during the 2012 Giro d'Italia won by Canada's Ryder Hesjedal but they returned in 2013, with 20, 12 and 8 seconds awarded to the first three riders on each road race stage. Two Intermediate sprints per stage also awarded 5, 3 and 2 seconds. Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won overall.
In this year's race, the time bonuses have been cut in half, with 10, 6 and 4 seconds awarded at stage finishes and 3, 2 and 1 second awarded at intermediate sprints.
Points and mountains competition changes
RCS Sport has also tweaked the points scales for the red points jersey and the blue mountains jersey.
The points awarded at stage finishes will vary, with three levels of points on offer depending on the stages. RCS Sport has not yet specified which stages will be in which level but the idea is to favour the sprinters.
The first level, presumably the flat stages, will award points to 20 riders on a scale from 50 to 1 point. Level two stages will award points to the top 15 riders on a scale of 25 to 1 and level three stages will award points to the top 10 riders on a scale of 15 to 1 point. Points at intermediate sprints will follow a similar scale.
The points awarded in the mountains will also change, with more points awarded on the more difficult climbs.
32, 20, 14, 10, 7, 4, 2 and 1 point will be awarded on category one climbs, 14, 9, 6, 4, 2 and 1 point will be awarded on category two climbs, 7, 4, 2 and 1 point will be awarded on category three climbs and 3, 2 and 1 point will be awarded on category four climbs.
The highest climb in each edition of the Giro d'Italia is known as the Cima Coppi (the Coppi Summit). This year the Passo dello Stelvio is the Cima Coppi and RCS Sport announced that 40, 28, 21, 15, 10, 7, 4, 2 and 1 point will be awarded at to the first nine riders to the top.
This year's Giro d'Italia starts in Belfast on May 9 and ends in Trieste on June 1.