Tom Simpson – Born Nottinghamshire 30.11.1937
Died – Mont Ventoux. Stage 13 Tour de France – 13.07.1967
Tom Simpson’s death hangs over the Tour de France and British cycling with equally heavy significance. His life and his passing on the baking slopes of Mont Ventoux sums up all that is good and bad about cycling and also highlights the ambiguity that often exists between the two. The sublime talent, the willingness to suffer, the commercial pressures that led riders to go too deep too often and, of course, the drugs that were found in his rear pocket. I recently had the chance to hold the very maillot jaune that Simpson wore on his single stage in yellow in 1962 and it got the hairs prickling on the back of my neck. The esteem in which he is still held is immeasurable. His death, captured on grainy black & white film, is one of the few where the build-up to the collapse is recorded and, riding alone that day up the Bald Mountain to his destiny, his is an especially affecting passing.