Simp­son dies at Tour de France

The Guardian Weekly - - Reply -

Tommy Simp­son, the Bri­tish cy­clist, died early this evening after col­laps­ing dur­ing a moun­tain stage of the Tour de France in in­tense heat this af­ter­noon, on the as­cent of Mont Ven­toux, a bar­ren moun­tain ris­ing over 6,000 ft near Car­pen­tras. A doc­tor tried to give him ar­ti­fi­cial res­pi­ra­tion and he was flown at once by am­bu­lance he­li­copter to Avi­gnon hospi­tal. But soon after 6.30pm the press at Car­pen­tras were told that Simp­son, 29, had died.

The col­lapse came two miles be­fore the sum­mit of Mont Ven­toux on the 13th stage of the race from Mar­seilles to Car­pen­tras. Simp­son had been rid­ing well through the day; all that struck one of his team-mates was that he was tak­ing drinks more of­ten than usual. At the bot­tom of the Col he had been dropped by one of the lead­ing groups, but to­wards the top of the climb he was still well up in the bro­ken field and try­ing to re­gain con­tact with Ai­mar’s small pur­su­ing group 200 yards ahead.

Then, as the few eye­wit­nesses de­scribed it, he fal­tered in his rid­ing and fell over to the side of the road. The Bri­tish team car was right be­hind him. Harry Hall, the team’s chief me­chanic, helped Simp­son re­mount his cy­cle, but Simp­son fell once more.

Dr Pierre Du­mas, the doc­tor who trav­elled with the tour, ex­am­ined him and im­me­di­ately or­dered his trans­fer by po­lice he­li­copter to the near­est hospi­tal. Simp­son’s was the first known death in the Tour’s his­tory. He was ly­ing sev­enth in the over­all race after the 12th lap and was the only Bri­ton ever to have worn the yel­low jersey of over­all leader in the race – in 1962. Tour of­fi­cials an­nounced that a cer­e­mony to mark his death would be held to­mor­row morn­ing at the start of the four­teenth lap. “It is just like au­torac­ing. The race goes on,” said one.

As a rider Simp­son was only just short of the very high­est class. He was a good climber, a brave de­scen­der, an ef­fi­cient all-rounder and highly pro­fes­sional. Only one sea­son did he fail to win at least one of the clas­sic races, and in 1965 he be­came world cham­pion, and was voted sports­man of the year. He rode in five Tours de France be­fore this one, but in the last two he was put out of the race through in­jury. He had badly wanted to do well this year to prove him­self a re­li­able team man. Ge­of­frey Ni­chol­son

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