In Memoriam – Fabio Casartelli

Francisco Fabio Casatelli – b. 16.08.1970 – d. 18.07.1995

Died – Stage 15 1995 Tour de France


Casartelli’s death on the Col de Portet d’Aspet in 1995 was a defining moment for the question of rider safety within the professional sport. The Olympic road-race champion from 1992, who was riding for the Motorola team, fell descending at speed and hit one of the large concrete blocks that line the edge of the road . Shockingly graphic pictures of the blood from his fatal head injury was seen (and recently re-used in the film documentary Lance Armstrong “The Armstrong Lie”) prompting a rethink about the use of helmets. Motorola’s crossing of the finish line of the neutralised stage the following day and Armstrong’s emotional dedication of his victory at Limoges 3 days after the crash have etched the moment into the wider fabric of the race and the beautiful monument on the Portet d’Aspet is regularly stopped at by riders and officials during races nowadays.

In Memoriam – Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson – Born Nottinghamshire 30.11.1937

Died – Mont Ventoux. Stage 13 Tour de France – 13.07.1967

Tom Simpson

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.

In Memoriam – Francisco Cepeda

Francisco Cepeda

Died – Stage 8 Tour de France – 12.07.1935

Francisco Cepeda

The first rider to die whilst racing a Tour stage, Cepeda crashed descending the Col du Galibier on Stage 8 from Grenoble to Gap, plunging off a ravine and fracturing his skull.. Reports vary as to whether he died on the way to hospital or a couple of days later.