Van Garderen finished Stage 12 placed 13th. Perhaps more importanly, he finished in a select group of nine riders who arrived at the summit finish together with race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), 6min 47sec after Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had won his second stage of the race.
Rodriguez soloed out of what began as a 22-man breakaway early in the 195km stage which included four major climbs.
"I knew Sky had a really strong team and they were going to try to neutralise any of the attacks of all the dangerous guys," said van Garderen.
"So when they were jumping, I just sat behind Sky to make sure they pulled them back. Hopefully those guys will keep doing that so they waste a few of their bullets. Then, in the third week they might pay the price."
On a day when rain pelted the peloton for the second half of the stage, van Garderen had team-mate Samuel Sánchez at his side until the group of favourites dwindled to a dozen. Not long after Sánchez lost contract with six kilometres to go, the attacks began. First from Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), followed by Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), then Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and finally from his team-mate, Nairo Quintana. But each time, the aggressor was brought back.
In the overall standings, van Garderen sits 2min 52sec behind Froome. Quintana and Valverde are third and fourth overall, 3min 9sec and 3min 58sec back, respectively. Only two other riders, Froome's team-mate, Geraint Thomas and Tinkoff-Saxo's Contador, are within five minutes of the lead.
"There were two guys who I needed to mark, guys who I was close to on time," said van Garderen. "I feel like I did a good job of staying close to them and staying within my limits. It is all going according to plan."
BMC sport director Yvon Ledanois said he was pleased to see van Garderen stay even with time on Froome. Van Garderen conceded 2min 30sec to the Sky team leader the first day in the Pyrenees but did not lose any more time during the next two days.
"We are happy with the results after the Pyrenees," said Ledanois. "We have kept the second place on the general classification. For the moment, that is most important. I think Tejay was a little bit better the second day and better today. He is motivated and he has the legs."
While the other teams launched repeated attacks and counter-attacks, van Garderen was able to keep his legs a fraction fresher than his rivals. Every ounce of energy will surely count for the stages that lie ahead.