The American rider, who was sitting in third place on the general classification, retired after 90km of the 161km stage from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup. He had been off the pace since the early partof the stage, losing contact with the peloton on the ascent of the Col de Toutes Aures. While he was paced back to the peloton by his teammates, he was dropped again on the Col de la Colle Saint-Michel and decided to climb into the team car.
Van Garderen said he had been fighting a cold he picked up after Stage 13.
"For a while I was dealing with it just fine," he said. "It was just a little bit of the sniffles and not a big deal. But it kept getting a little bit worse. Then, on the rest day (Tuesday), I was having some feverish symptoms and chills.
"This morning, I woke up and thought the worst of it had passed. I felt ready to race and was back, closer to normal.
But then once I got out there, the muscles just had no energy. Straight away from the start, I kind of knew this wasn't good and hopefully I could just hide and maybe ride into it for a few kilometres and start to feel better. But the sensations never came. It is hugely disappointing."
Van Garderen's retirement is bound to be doubly galling as he had ridden a nigh-perfect race up until this point.
"To be fighting for a podium in the Tour de France, and then the next minute you are sitting in the car, was really hard," van Garderen said.
"It was hard to look my teammates in the eyes. It was hard to call my wife and explain to her what was going on. It was a lot of emotions.”
BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz said the team would refocus and set some new goals for the remainder of the Tour.