Tribute to Tom Simpson

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?

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