the Tour waited so long to visit Cap FrÃ©hel, the finish town of the
fifth stage, and the most stunning coastal landscape I have ever
witnessed in this magnificent land, is beyond me.
The last few days, the Breton hospitality has been simply overwhelming. I have eaten enough 'Galettes bretonne',
the buckwheat flour pancakes filled with everything from ham, cheese,
eggs, sausages Ã¢â¬â basically whatever's around Ã¢â¬â to last me for the rest
of the Tour. Or maybe I haven't, because I had one again today for
lunch. And then another, with just lemon and sugar, for dessert.
have become the embodiment of sloth, and I fear my name no longer is
associated with cycling and writing and fantasising about blond podium
girls when I'm supposed to be working but instead has become a byword
for 'gros porc' (fat pig).
Yesterday in Cap FrÃ©hel, the information sheet on 'le buffet en salle de presse' was rather wordy, and read as follows: "Restauration
ambulante payante. Espace dÃ©tente avec massage et relaxation. Sur
inscription: balade en mer pour dÃ©couvrir le Cap FrÃ©hel."
short translation is that you had to pay for lunch (the option was
seafood paella or Galettes), but far more importantly and for the very
first time since I've been covering the Tour de France, a space for
relaxation with a massage service available to the press corps.
Massage? Relaxation? Yeah, baby! Hook me up NOW! (And yes, I said this out loud.)
so, after those pair of Galettes slid down my throat far too easily, I
stumbled back to my desk, put my laptop in 'standby mode' (note to SBS
head honchos who pay my wage: there was still more than 100 kilometres
to go; actually make that 200km, even though the stage was only 164.5km
longÃ¢â¬¦), and went looking for this "Espace dÃ©tente avec massage et relaxation".
Down the front of the press room and to the right, there it wasÃ¢â¬¦
An oasis of calm among the furious blik-blik-blik sound of tapping keys that makes me think I've got a curious strain of tinnitus (by the way, why do some journalists have to thlap
their keyboards so hard? And can you believe there's still one
journalist still using a typewriter?!), I stepped into the man-made
beach of tranquillity and made a beeline for the massage table.
before that, though, I had to choose an appropriate masseuse. Gentlemen
(which, when required, I can be) prefer blondes, as the 1953 film
starring Marilyn Monroe suggests, and I am no different.
"Where would you like it?" asked the alluring mademoiselle with a cute-as-hell upturned nose.
how about my back and legs and feet and arms and neck and shoulders?" I
suggested, not caring that such a session would deny anyone else from
enjoying the same pleasure.
"Where are you hurting most?" she then asked.
'In my heart,' I said, happy that I came up with such a seductively witty line.
"Okay," she said, ignoring my tragically pathetic charm, "I will do the first thing you said Ã¢â¬â your back. Take your shirt off."
'Er, the other journalists can see me (read: my man boobs),' I said, as Justin Davis of Agence France Presse looked across at me, grinning.
"Take your shirt off," she repeated.
(Ah, stuff it. Almost all journalists have 'moobs', anyway, I thought.)
later, I was lying face-down on the table, soothing hands circling
around my heavily muscled back whose profile resembles the rugged Breton
coastline, made rock-hard from years of chin-ups (yeah, right) and
having my own lateral pull-down machine at home (yeah, right).
"Oh la la, what a strong back you have!" she said, working on a stubborn knot in my Schwarzenegger-ripped trapezius.
do 100 chin-ups a day and have my own lateral pull-down machine at
home, where I do 10 sets of 50, again each day," I said, lying as easily
as Riccardo RiccÃ².
I could feel my nose grow suddenly longer.
Throughout the 20-minute massage and before I dozed off, I heard at least three journalists (I counted Andy Hood from VeloNews, Brecht DecaluwÃ© of Cyclingnews,
and some other jealous scribe) walk past, uttering a hurtful slew of
jibes. Something like, "TanMan, you f**king bastard," before walking
I ignored it and treated the jibes as spam, as I do all my hecklers on Twitter.
"C'est bon?" asked the masseuse, as I struggled to get off the table, having fallen asleep towards the end.
"C'Ã©tait trÃ¨s bon! Il Ã©tait superbe!" I enthused. "Je me sens trÃ¨s relaxed!"
hour later, my best friend, Mark Cavendish, won the stage to this
cliff-side paradise perched atop a luminous emerald sea backdrop, and
after I had just tweeted, "Do not be surprised if Cav' doesn't win today
Ã¢â¬â last 2km are not easy..."
I was all in knots again. Merde!
Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan