Green jersey changes favour Cavendish

HTC-Highroad sprinter Mark Cavendish (Getty)

Britain's Mark Cavendish has been given a potential boost by organisers of the Tour de France after they announced changes Friday to the rules concerning the race's points competition, whose prize is the green jersey.

Potential 'Kings of the Mountains' (KOM) meanwhile might find the path to polka dot jersey glory tougher this year after the rules governing that competition were also adjusted.

Isle of Man sprinter Cavendish, who rides for HTC-Highroad, has been edging closer to his green jersey dream during the past three editions in which he has amassed a stunning 15 stage wins.

Race organisers ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation) announced Friday that only one, and not two, intermediate sprints will feature on the race's stages.

The sprint will feature in the first half of the stage, with points being awarded to the first 15 riders to cross. In previous editions, six, four and two points were on offer for the first three riders over the sprint line.

Stage winners will also collect more points at the finish line in comparison to the runner-up, a potential filip for Cavendish who is the most successful sprinter in the race in the past three years.

In 2009 Cavendish lost out on the green jersey to Thor Hushovd when the Norwegian, despite winning only one stage to Cavendish's six, went on the attack in the last half of the race to collect crucial points on offer at the intermediate sprints.

Whoever wants to be crowned the race's top climber, or the 'King of the Mountains', meanwile could find the going more difficult with the attribution of points in the field being restricted.

Now only the first six riders to reach the summit of 'unclassified' (hors categorie) or category one climbs can pick up points. The first four and the first two riders will be awarded points in category two and category three climbs respectively.

The serious climbing specialists can, however, keep the tank full for the mountaintop finishes on this year's race. There are four in total, at Luz-Ardiden and Plateau de Beille in the Pyrenees and the Galibier and Alpe d'Huez in the Alps, and points will be doubled.

In what will be a blow to the ambitious teams who possess comparatively less horsepower in the time trial, ASO announced that the real time gaps on stage two's team event - previously limited - will be taken into account.

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