Leopold Koenig won the seventh stage of the Tour of California atop Mt. Diablo on Saturday, while overall leader Tejay van Garderen’s third place finish had him poised to win the title on Sunday. Czech rider Koenig gave the NetApp team its first stage win in the Tour of California, holding off an aggressive Janier Acevedo three kilometers from the summit of Mt. Diablo. BMC’s van Garderen finished third, 12 seconds behind Koenig to keep the yellow jersey he first donned after Thursday’s fifth stage and retained with his triumph in Friday’s individual time trial.
“I’m thrilled. I’m still soaking it in,” said van Garderen, who is now set to seal his first career stage-race triumph in Sunday’s final, 129.9km stage from San Francisco to Santa Rosa. “It was an unbelievable team effort,” said van Garderen in praising his team’s efforts on the hors categorie climb. “I knew they were strong, I knew they’d be motivated, but they went above and beyond expectations today. They made my life somewhat easy, although it still was a hard day.”
The 24-year-old American, who finished fifth in the Tour de France last year, has already made a strong start to the season, with a fourth place finish in the Paris-Nice and a runner-up finish at the Tour de San Luis. Australian Saxo rider Michael Rogers, the Tour of California winner in 2010, finished in fourth to maintain his second place in the overall standings.