Cycling: Joanne's poignant journey
Sunday 13 July 1997
At the head will ride Joanne Simpson, the daughter of Tommy Simpson, who was four when her father died within sight of the summit on a blistering afternoon 30 years ago today. At her side, Barry Hoban, her stepfather, who was a member of the British team led by Simpson on that Tour de France. In the car behind will be Helen Hoban, Tommy's widow.
Simpson was lifted from his bike by helpers and fans late in the afternoon of 13 July 1967, on the Tour's 13th stage. He was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by the Tour doctor but died shortly after being airlifted to hospital. The press room was given the news at 5.40 by the race organiser, Felix Levitan, and the cortege today will rendezvous at the same hour, adding a wreath to the hats, jerseys and paraphernalia which are laid by cycling aficionados each summer at the foot of the stark monument to Simpson's death.
The route of this year's Tour does not go up Mont Ventoux, but tributes will be paid to both Simpson and to Fabio Casartelli, the Motorola rider who was killed on a mountain descent on the 1995 Tour.
Simpson's death, at the age of 29, shocked the world of cycling, not least because the trace of amphetamines found in his blood revealed the darker side of the sport's prevailing culture. He was a popular figure on the continent, the first English rider to lead the Tour - in 1962 after a superb ride over the Pyrenees - and a master of the dashing breakaway.
Simpson's finest hour came in Spain, in 1965, when, in heavy rain, he won the world road-race championships. Soon after, he won the Tour of Lombardy, but it was a train of bad luck through the following year which made Simpson so desperate to do well on the 1967 Tour. "His ambition knew no bounds and he ended up paying the price for it," as Eddie Merckx said.
Earlier this year, a memorial stone was unveiled in Simpson's home town of Harworth in Nottinghamshire. It read simply: "In memory of a Harworth cyclist, Tom Simpson, Olympic medallist, classics winner, world champion... who died in the 1967 Tour de France."
Latest in Sport
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Six things we learnt: Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United; Henderson becoming the genuine heir to Gerrard
Terminally-ill Club Brugge fan Lorenzo Schoonbaert delays euthanasia appointment to see his beloved football club 'win one last time'
Steven Gerrard tribute match: An alternative XI the Liverpool player wouldn't want crashing the Anfield party
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 4 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...