Tejay van Garderen (BMC) has been so close to winning so many stage races, from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Critérium International, but since moving into the WorldTour the 24-year-old hasn't stood on the top step of a final podium in a multi-day event. That all stands to change when the 2013 Tour of California finishes in Santa Rosa, barring incident.
"I'm thrilled. I'm still soaking it in," van Garderen said on the eve of the final stage.
After taking out the win in the stage 6 time trial, and defending his 1:47 lead on Saxo-Tinkoff's Michael Rogers on Mt. Diablo, he was quick to thank his team for showing its strength on the day.
"They went above and beyond expectations today," he said, adding that trusting in his team and showing patience was key to his success.
"Tomorrow, barring incident, will be really proud to pull on the final yellow jersey. I think I've finally showed I have the full package. To win you need strength, patience and maturity," he said.
"In the past had a habit of blowing myself up. Now, I have more patience. There was also no reason to panic when I have a solid gap and a strong team. There wasn't any reason to attack, I just had to keep my cool.
Patience came into play when Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy) launched a vicious attack with just over 5km to go on the climb. In previous years, that might have sparked a panicked reaction, but with five teammates leading him up the climb, van Garderen knew he was safe.
"We were more worried about him going in an early breakaway. Sometimes he can go for a long bomb and pull it off. I wasn't too worried when he went on the climb, because we had a lot of manpower to pull it back. It was a low stress day."