A key course change could open up chances in next month's 75th anniversary of the Elite Road Cycling Championships in Christchurch.
The 2013 Calder Stewart-sponsored race returns to the challenging Cashmere Hills circuit on January 12 and 13 for the fourth straight year.
There will be one less ascent over the testing climb up Dyers Pass Rd to be replaced with a full lap on the flat instead.
Organiser Simon Hollander believes the change will bring more riders into contention.
"First and foremost we want to maintain the integrity of this course as a true test befitting a national championship," Hollander said.
"This course does that in my view, and 10 times up Dyers Pass will test everyone for sure.
"Previously, if the bigger time trailers dropped off the back on that last climb, there's only 8km remaining and not much of a chance to work their way back on the final lap.
"Now there will be around 21km of flat riding which offers real incentive for those who aren't able to go with the best climbers to work their way back and figure in the finish.
"And those who have got away on the climbs will have to work really hard to maintain their advantage."
Hollander does not expect it to result in a mass sprint though.
"This course is still a serious test but now it could well mean we have a very exciting finish," he said.
" [It] will now allow for every type of rider to play a part in the finish if they are good enough and will no doubt call for a different tactical approach from some riders."
The championship week begins with the time trials from Lincoln College on January 11.
The women's elite road race over 120.5km on January 12 will comprise eight laps with six climbs of Dyers Pass.
This is a 1.5km climb of a gradient of 8 per cent initially, easing to 5 per cent, before the right hand turn and sharp descent of Hackthorne Rd.
The elite and under-23 men's race on January 13 comprises 12 laps in total for 183.7km.
It starts with the usual full lap on the flat before 10 circuits up the Dyers Pass climb.
Following the climb for the final time, riders complete the 8kms of that lap and then add a further 12km final lap on the flat.
- The Southland Times