The first British rider to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey, Tom Simpson would have turned 79 on November 30, 2016

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Remembered for his tragic and untimely death on the ascent of Mont Ventoux, Tom Simpson blazed a trail for British riders during a brief but decorated career, and here we show our respects through some classic photos from the Cycling Weekly archive

Born on November 30, 1937 in Haswell, County Durham, Simpson forged a short but prolific cycling career which included winning the 1965 Road Race World Championship and being the first British rider to wear the Tour de France‘s coveted yellow jersey.

Tom Simpson as a baby (right) with older brother Harry, 1938

Simpson was the youngest of six children. The next in age was his brother Harry, who he is pictured with here in 1938.

>>> Tom Simpson’s World Championships win: 50 years on

The two brothers were the only children left at home when the family moved southwards.

Tom Simpson The family moved to Harworth, Nottinghamshire in 1950. Above, Tom is seen cleaning the windows of the family home in 1959 as his brother Harry and mother Alice look on.

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Tom followed Harry’s lead by joining Harworth and District Cycling Club. In the early days, Tom was often left behind in club races, but soon started winning club time trials, before moving to Rotherham’s Scala Wheelers.

Tom Simpson After his early rides on the road and in club time trials, Simpson moved to track cycling and became a pursuit specialist. He competed often at Herne Hill in London, as here in 1958.

Tom Simpson His career was now taking off, and Simpson was selected to ride the 1959 Road Race World Championships in the Netherlands.

Looking relaxed and upbeat before the race, Simpson went on the finish fourth, with André Darrigade of France the winner.

Tom Simpson Backwards cap and sunglasses marked out the young British rider as he learned his craft in France, as above in 1959.

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Tom SimpsonEnjoying himself before a race again. This time Simpson went for a donkey ride before the start of stage three of the Tour de France in 1960 at Malo-les-Bains.

It’s a far cry from the strictly timed warm-ups and regimented mealtimes of the modern pro peloton.

Tom Simpson Trademark backwards cap and sunglasses make Simpson easy to spot in the peloton on stage nine of the 1960 Tour de France from St Malo to Lorient.

He may have been distinctive from the beginning, but it would be another two years before he properly made his mark on the world’s biggest cycle race.

Tom SimpsonVastly different to today’s indoor cycle training, Mr Tom tried out an early training bike in 1960. Not sure he’s taking it entirely seriously though…

Tom SimpsonBack on the track, Simpson can be seen here winning his heat of the 500-metre pursuit at the 1961 World Track Championships in Zurich, Switzerland.

He was eliminated in the quarter finals.

Tom SimpsonSimpson’s first major win as a pro came in the 1961 Tour of Flanders.  He beat Nino Defilippis in a close sprint finish after some cat and mouse antics in the closing kilometres.

He equalled this one day result with wins in Milan-San Remo and Giro di Lombardia later in his career.

Tom Simpson Continuing to ride for French teams, Simpson wore the jersey of Rapha-Gitane-Dunlop in 1960 and 1961.

Here he heads to the start line of an early season race in 1961.

Tom Simpson Swapping between the road and track throughout his career, Tommy returned to Herne Hill for the meeting of the champions in 1961.

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Above he can be seen motorpacing a Lambretta in one of the outdoor velodrome’s races.

Tom SimpsonMaking history: Tom Simpson became the first British rider to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France after stage 12 in 1962 from Pau to St Gaudens.

Despite losing the jersey on the following day, Simpson will always be remembered for starting a club that now includes Chris Boardman (1994 – 3 days; 1997 – 1 day; 1998 – 2 days), Sean Yates (1994 – 1 day), David Millar (2000 – 3 days), Sir Bradley Wiggins (2012 – 13 days), Chris Froome (2013 – 13 days, 2015 – 15 days, 2016 – 13) and Mark Cavendish (2016 – 1 day).

Tom SimpsonJoking with a young rider at Herne Hill in 1963.

Tom Simpson After increasing his palmarès with a win at Bordeaux-Paris in 1963, Simpson was bundled through the crowd to the presentation area.

Tom Simpson A meeting of greats: French legend and five time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil (left) sits and chats to Tom Simpson during a break from racing at Herne Hill on June 13, 1964.

Tom SimpsonNot afraid to speak his mind, Simpson has words with a policeman at the Corona Grand Prix, Crystal Palace, 1964.

Tom Simpson Probably not the kind of image promoted by sportsmen in the 21 century, this photograph is a candid look behind the scenes of the Milan Six Day in 1965.

Tom Simpson Tom Simpson became the first British rider to win Paris-Nice in 1967, and was the only Brit to have done so until Bradley Wiggins’s victory in his golden season in 2012.

It was later in the 1967 season that Tommy Simpson died. He collapsed on the ascent of Mont Ventoux during stage 13 of the Tour de France and could not be resuscitated.

A post-mortem confirmed that Simpson had ingested amphetamines and alcohol, a mixture that proved to be fatal in conjunction with the high temperatures that day on Ventoux.

He was just 29 years old. A memorial marks the spot where he fell.

  • ian franklin

    What is “publishlication”? Is it the same as a sportive?

  • Chris Williams

    Just thinking the same thing – Where is the photo of him snorting something!!!

  • ummm…

    how is this comment a year old, and the article written today

  • J1

    So many ignorant people. Educate yourself, then comment.

  • Norfolk_n_Chance

    I’m not the only person saying Simpson was a charger…

    Two things:
    1. Accept that TS won the stripy jumper, Yellow jersey and countless other races charged up (i.e. Ventoux wasn’t a one off)

    2. You need to stop sending articles to CW for publishlication

  • ian franklin

    Oh dear! Here we go again! Let’s make one thing clear: So-called doping then did not turn cart horses into race horses. It was a different world, a different experience and with wildly differing results. What Armstrong (et al) did in the modern era bore no similarity whatsoever to what happened in the Simpson era and before – going back well into the late 1800s. Apart from the chemistry involved, there were different standards too. I can remember going to Belgium, and indeed France, and seeing foolish riders high on amphetamines, eyes popping out of their heads lining up for a 120km crit. Invariably many of the lesser riders who had popped pills in order to stay with the pace were off the back by half way. The modern era saw doping having an entirely different effect on the races and the riders. I don’t condone doping in any sport at any level, yet for the life of me I don’t understand why you people have to come to these kind of ignorant conclusions without understanding the differences – both legally and chemically. Simpson was a hero to thousands of cyclists back in the day and the fact that he popped pills did not generate these kind of personal attacks. However, and happily, the mood has changed since then. But then was then and now is now. You don’t need to show how ‘anti-doping’ or moralistic you are by making these kind of posts. Respect the past. Learn from the past and for goodness sake move on.

  • llos25

    He was a tremendous rider but money was his god whereas most riders of the day doped a little he took it to tenth degree.But I suppose nothing changes in this world the doping is more sophisticated and involves all aspects of sport

  • Simon E

    What has Lance Armstrong got to do with pictures of Tom Simpson? You bought into the myth and helped make him so famous. However, with the benefit of hindsight realise it wasn’t all it was made out to be. Such is the risk when venerating human beings as heroes. We all make mistakes. If it was me I’d try to remember my father for his life and for who he was instead of that jersey and its associations.

  • Norfolk_n_Chance

    Why oh why oh why oh why oh why (etc) does CW need to publish articles on this doper?!

  • Talis

    Interesting that so many call Simpson a great man even though he was a doper. Now to be clear I have no problem what so ever with athletes doing whatever it takes to perform

    But think of how a certain world class rider (Armstrong) and many others have been raped by the fans and the media for doping.

  • Andy Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong should for the sake of cycling disappear .I spent hours watching a control cheating person and feel so let down.we cremated our father in a US postal top and feel so let down.

  • ian franklin

    Thank you CW. Great pictures of a great man!