Tom Simpson 1937–1967: A life in pictures

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Tom Simpson's death on Mont Ventoux on July 13 1967 while riding the Tour de France. This gallery from the archives tells of the story of Tom Simpson's decorated life and career

Tom Simpson.
(Image credit: Cycling Weekly Archive)

Remembered for his tragic and untimely death 50 years ago on the ascent of Mont Ventoux on July 13 1967, 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.

>>> Icons of cycling: Tom Simpson’s Peugeot chequered jersey

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 Simpson

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.

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 Simpson

Vastly 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 Simpson

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.

Tom Simpson

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.

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 Simpson

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, 2017 - race in progress), Mark Cavendish (2016 - 1 day) and Geraint Thomas (2017 - 4 days).

Tom Simpson

Joking 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 Simpson

Not 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.

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