Stage time bonuses return to Giro d'Italia
Mark Cavendish wins, Giro d'Italia 2012, stage 13
The organiser of the Giro d'Italia has announced that time bonuses for the top three stage finishers will be re-introduced for the 2013 edition of the race.
All road stages will feature bonuses of 20, 12 and eight seconds for the first, second and third finishers, with the exception of time trial stages.
The move should make the opening stages of the race more lively, as sprinters have even more of an incentive to win to earn time and potentially put themselves in the coveted maglia rosa of race leader.
In addition to the stage win time bonuses, the number of intermediate sprints during each stage has been upped from one to two. These intermediate sprints will also carry time bonuses for the top three riders over the line - five, three and two seconds.
It means that if a rider takes both intermediate sprints and the stage win they will net a handy 30 seconds to help them climb up the overall classification.
Later in the race, the re-introduced time bonuses will help the leading climbers open up wider gaps in the general classification during the mountain stages - just as they have done in the Vuelta a Espana.
In the 2012 Giro, opening time trial winner Taylor Phinney (BMC) wore the leader's jersey until the stage four team time trial. The sprinters had no hope of taking the lead from the American for as long as he stayed in the same finishing group as them.
Opponents of time bonuses do not like them because the race can end up with a winner who has not actually completed the event in the shortest time. This happened recently in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana when Chris Froome (Sky) was beaten by Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) by just 13 seconds overall. Cobo amassed 32 seconds more in time bonuses than Froome, meaning he rode the course 19 seconds slower than Froome before time bonuses were taken into account.
The 2013 Giro d'Italia starts with a 156km road stage in Naples, Italy, on May 4 and finishes three weeks later in Brescia on May 26.
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has already confirmed that he will target the Giro d'Italia next season.