Steep climb for Cadel Evans
But the 31-year-old 'Kid from Corindi' has not ruled out trying to forge alliances, if needed, in a bid to counter some of his big rivals for the race's main prize.
Evans, who grew up here on the Coffs Coast, finished the 14th stage suffering, like most of the peloton, from the searing temperatures as the race headed slowly upwards to the foot of the Alps.
“I'm kind of surprised to hold the jersey this far, to be honest,” said Evans.
He retained his one-second lead on Luxembourg's Frank Schleck of the powerful CSC team, but after four days of a lull in the yellow jersey battle Evans knows it's now time to re-arm.
Schleck is Evans' biggest threat on paper.
However, American Christian Vande Velde is third at 38ecs, Austrian Markus Fothen is fourth at 46 and Russian Denis Menchov is fifth at 57.
More importantly, Spaniard Carlos Sastre, of Schleck's CSC team, is sixth at 1:28, giving the Danish outfit further tactical options. At this stage, none of the top six can be ruled out.
Evans has already acknowledged the dominance of the CSC team, but he hopes team-mates Yaroslav Popovych, Mario Aerts and Dario Cioni will step up to the plate when needed.
”We don't have a strong team for the mountains, I'm well aware of that,” he said.