Sir Bradley Wiggins among hundreds of riders at memorial for cycling hero who died during Tour de France

British cyclist Tommy Simpson. John Giles/PA Wire
British cyclist Tommy Simpson. John Giles/PA Wire
0
Have your say

Olympic cycling champion Sir Bradley Wiggins joined hundreds of riders in a memorial event to East Durham born sporting hero Tommy Simpson.

About 200 riders followed in the wheel tracks of Tommy, from Haswell, to mark the 50th anniversary of his death during the Tour de France.

Helen Hoban and Joanne Simpson at the memorial event

Helen Hoban and Joanne Simpson at the memorial event

Approximately 200 cyclists gathered in Bédoin, France, to ride to the top of Mount Ventoux, the summit of which Tommy was trying to reach when he collapsed in 1967.

Leading them out on the 23km climb was Tom’s youngest daughter Joanne, herself a lifelong cyclist.

One of Tom’s nephews Malcolm Williams, who attended the event, said: “At 9am they rolled out on a bright, sunny morning in a comfortable temperature of 18C/64F, a peleton of riders of all ages and abilities from all over the world, most of whom wore a special edition jersey.

“Among the riders was Sir Bradley Wiggins who has said that Tom was his inspiration as he was growing up.

Sir Bradley Wiggins at Tommy Simpson's memorial event in France

Sir Bradley Wiggins at Tommy Simpson's memorial event in France

“The Michelin UK cycle team went all out for the authentic experience and completed the climb in woollen jerseys and riding the steel framed bikes of the period.

“After making it to the summit the riders returned to the memorial overlooking the spot where Tom fell, for the dedication of the new steps by his widow Helen and daughters Jane and Joanne, and perhaps to reflect on a life that was taken from us to soon.”

Tommy was the Bradley Wiggins of his day. He was the first Briton to wear the coveted yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 1962 and the world road race champion’s rainbow jersey in 1965.

He was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year.

Tommy Simpson's memorial

Tommy Simpson's memorial

Tommy won many titles on the track too, including a bronze medal at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and silver at the 1958 British and Empire Games – now the Commonwealth Games.

Malcolm added: “Tom won all of the French one day classic road races and was known for his bravery, determination and attacking style, often riding alone far out in front of the rest of the field.

“Sadly his determination was to cost him his life as he tried to push through the pain of the gruelling climb to the summit of Mount Ventoux during the 1967 tour.”

Tommy’s memorial at the top of the mountain was a result of donations from British cyclists.