A general classification rider is a pro cyclist who competes for the biggest prizes in cycling. Each year, the general classification specialists take the biggest wins in the sport at the Grand Tours and are usually contenders at the World Championships and hillier one-day races too.
But, what makes a true Grand Tour contender? All must be good at both climbing and time trialling. Those who are weaker time triallists must rely on extraordinary climbing ability, whereas those who are stronger at time trialling can chose to maintain and hold their own once the race turns to the mountains. A general classification rider must also have incredible amounts of focus; arguably more so than any other pro cyclists. GC riders must maintain training focus all year round, and then have their mind focussed on the task at hand for an entire 3 week race. Any slip in focus can result in a loss of position in the bunch, and lost time overall. Nowadays, a strong GC rider also has a strong team around them. After Lance Armstrong and Discovery Channel bought other overall favourites to the team to work for the former 7-time Tour winner, other teams have followed suit, and it’s not unusual to see riders who may have a claim to be an overall leader at another team working for a podium contender.