It is 50 years this year since Harworth’s most famous son, Tom Simpson, died on the gruelling ascent of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. He was just 29 years old.
Born in County Durham on 30th November 1937, Tom Simpson blazed a trail for British riders during his short but decorated career in which he became the first British rider to wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey and won the 1965 Road Race World Championship.
In 1950, the Simpson family moved to Harworth, Nottinghamshire where Tom joined the Harworth & District Cycling Club. He was often left behind in the club races, but soon started to win club time trials. He later moved onto track cycling and became a pursuit specialist, which is when his cycling career really took off. He was selected to ride in the 1959 Road Race World Championship in the Netherlands, where he went on to finish fourth.
Simpsons signature backwards cap and sunglasses combo made him easy to spot in the peloton during many races, and whilst he may have been distinctive from the beginning it would be another few years before he made his mark on the biggest race in the cycling calendar.
His first major win as a pro cyclist came from the Tour of Flanders in 1961 where he was put through his paces by Nino Defilippis in a close sprint finish over the line.
In 1962 Tom Simpson became the first British cyclist to wear the coveted yellow jersey at the Tour de France after stage 12 of the race. Simpson also became the first British rider to win Paris-Nice in 1967, and was the only Brit to do so until Bradley Wiggins’s victory in 2012. It was later that year Tom took part in the Tour de France, and it was during the ascent of Mont Ventoux during stage 13 of the race where he collapsed and was unable to be resuscitated. A memorial marks the spot where he fell.