On this day, 30th November 1937, Tom Simpson was born in Haswell, County Durham, the youngest of six children. The son of a coal miner he went on to become an Olympic medalist, World Champion and the first Briton to wear the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France. And of course he is still remembered to this day for his tragic early death on the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux. Exhausted, dehydrated and his condition exacerbated by amphetamine and alcohol consumption on the day, his body gave up.
‘Major Tom’ is revered as one of the greatest British cyclists of all time, the man who led the way for other Britons to make it as professionals on the continent. But, as William Fotheringham’s excellent 2002 biography of Simpson, Put Me Back On My Bike, revealed, he admitted to taking banned drugs and attempted to fix races with bribes and murky allegiances. How is it that a former doper and race fixer is held in such high esteem to this day? Read More
There aren’t many good novels about cycling. While millions of words of print have been devoted to its rich heritage and past, it’s strange that few writers have been able to capture the essence of the bike and our love for it in fiction. Ventoux by Bert Waggendorp goes some way to address that balance - at last a beautifully rich story with cycling at its heart. Read More
Has watching the Tour de France inspired you to try some of the iconic climbs that the pros race up almost effortlessly? Maybe you've already attempted some of the better known ascent such as Alpe d'Huez and the Tourmalet? Tomorrow sees the publication of The Cyclist's Bucket List - A Road Bike Journal - a beautifully illustrated notebook with ideas to inspire you - from the Etape du Tour to climbing the Col de Aubisquel - and challenges such as taking part in a bunch sprint. Read More
On 13th July 1967, on the 13th stage of that year’s Tour de France, the British rider Tommy Simpson was climbing the dreaded Mont Ventoux when he started to veer from side to side of the road. Insisting that he be “put back on my bike” he continued until he was 1.5 km from the summit when he finally collapsed still clipped into his pedals, and died. A mixture of amphetamines and alcohol were later found in his bloodstream causing heat exhaustion and dehydration. Tomorrow will see this year’s tour pass the memorial which marks that spot where the brave Tommy breathed his last gasp and pedalled his final stroke. Read More