The first British rider to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey, Tom Simpson would have turned 79 on November 30, 2016
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.
Simpson was the youngest of six children. The next in age was his brother Harry, who he is pictured with here in 1938.
The two brothers were the only children left at home when the family moved southwards.
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.
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.
Enjoying 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.
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.
Back 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.
Simpson’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.
Here he heads to the start line of an early season race in 1961.
Above he can be seen motorpacing a Lambretta in one of the outdoor velodrome’s races.
Making 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).
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.
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.