Home
Monument to former world champion who died on mountain in 1967 has become a place of pilgrimage for cyclists

The memorial on Mont Ventoux to Tom Simpson, the first British road world champion and the first to wear the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader, has been blown over as a result of strong winds. The granite memorial, unveiled by Simpson’s wife Helen in 1968, the year after he died on the mountain during a stage of the Tour de France, has become a place of pilgrimage for cyclists, particularly from the UK.

Earlier today, a picture of the memorial was posted to the Tom Simpson Appreciation Group page on Facebook, with a message from one of Simpson's daughters, Joanne, that read:

Sadly to say, Daddy's monument on the Ventoux was blown down due to heavy winds. Hope the winter wouldn't last to long so we can start repairing it. Breaks my heart to see it like this.

Veloventoux Cycling Holidays also posted the picture to their Facebook page, together with the following comment:

Just got this bad news this morning. Trying to get in touch with the Tom Simpson Appreciation Society regarding what's going to happen about repairing this. I'll keep you posted and let you know if there's any fundraising going to start up to pay for any building work. Tom deserves this to be fixed as soon as possible. Absolutely gutted!

In response to a comment asking what had happened, they added:

It blew over in the wind Binksy. Have to admit last week the Mistral wind was howling. Looking on the bright side it didn't crack which would have been devastating.

Some people commenting on the thread have asked whether there is a link to a fundraising page to help pay for the memorial’s repair.

Craig Entwistle of Veloventoux Cycling Holidays told road.cc he had spoken to cycling writer Chris Sidwells - Simpson's nephew, and author of the book Mr Tom: The True Story of Tom Simpson - who said there was money in the memorial fund to pay for repairs.

Entwistle said: "I race with local cycling club USC Vaison la Romaine and there's two builders who ride regularly in the club. I'm going up there with a friend tomorrow at 10am and we're going to take as many pics as we can and get the ball rolling in terms of getting a builder on board and getting the memorial back into a pristine condition ready for next season when the road opens in April.

He added that "the problem at the moment is the weather has just turned," leading to it being extremely cold on the mountain at the moment.

The memorial was erected with the help of £1,500 – around £22,000 today – and this isn’t the first time it has needed repairing.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of Simpson’s death in 1997, with the memorial bearing the scars of Mont Ventoux’s harsh climate - its name is French for 'windy mountain' - steel rods were placed inside to secure it to a new plinth. A decade later, new concrete steps were added.

The official cause of Simpson’s death was stated by the French authorities as heart failure due to dehydration and heat exhaustion, with drugs – specifically amphetamines, which he is said to have taken with brandy – a contributory factor.

Among riders to have paid their tributes to Simpson as they passed the memorial over the years have been two British riders to follow him into the yellow jersey, David Millar and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

In July this year, the latest, Wiggins’ successor as Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, became the first British rider to win a Tour de France stage on the mountain.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

38 comments

Avatar
pmr [197 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It does not look too bad - hopefully be able to do something with that

Avatar
allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Maybe Wiggo and Millar could cough up.

Avatar
ChairRDRF [308 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

On Friday July 13th 2007 (the 40th anniversary of the death of Tom Simpson on Mont Ventoux) a group from his first cycling club, the Harworth and District, climbed Mont Ventoux for a re-dedication ceremony . This was to unveil the steps and general refurbishment. They were joined by other riders from south Yorkshire plus Simpson’s ex-tem mates Barry Hoban, Vin Denson, his widow Helen (now Helen Hoban) as well as his daughter Joanne.

I was there along with film maker Ray Pascoe and dozens of club riders, on what turned out to be a very sunny (but not too hot) day. The flags of France, Belgium, Flanders and Brittany flew - in memory of Simpsons regions of cycling achievement - with a Union Jack over the stone centre piece.

The refurbishment was a big improvement on the state of the memorial previously. Hopefully the recent damage will be easy to repair.

Bob Davis

Avatar
TheDoctor [186 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

Avatar
allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

A monument to an imperfect but charismatic and courageous man who pushed himself beyond the limit of endurance in a bid for glory.

Ok, the doping thing - different era and attitudes but then what decade of pro cycling hasn't seen doping, with similarly unconvincing excuses.

Avatar
Huw Watkins [97 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
TheDoctor wrote:

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

Apples and potatoes

A different world and one without your astonishing vision - though perhaps a little more sympathy. C*ck

Avatar
BikerBob [116 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Huw Watkins wrote:
TheDoctor wrote:

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

Apples and potatoes

A different world and one without your astonishing vision - though perhaps a little more sympathy. C*ck

Couldn't have put it better myself!

Avatar
Leviathan [1984 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Shocking, the disrespect the French wind has for a true British sporting hero. Shocking the sycophancy for just another cheat. Take your pick; as usual life falls somewhere in between internet chatter.
Just needs a bit of cross bracing, plenty of room behind for a T-stone.

Avatar
William Black [193 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Among riders to have paid their tributes to the Shamed Simpson as they passed the memorial over the years have been two British riders to follow him into the yellow jersey, Utterly Disgraced David Millar...

(Journalistic integrity redressed)

Avatar
allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Millar (have you read his book ?) had the chance to make amends and redeem himself - an opportunity Simpson never had.

Avatar
daddyELVIS [655 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
TheDoctor wrote:

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

You need to get yourself educated in the history of professional cycling. Perhaps then your comments will be less twattish!

Avatar
TheDoctor [186 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Huw Watkins wrote:
TheDoctor wrote:

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

Apples and potatoes

A different world and one without your astonishing vision - though perhaps a little more sympathy. C*ck

Yes yes well done, look at you all brave with your name calling!

A drug cheat is still a drug cheat! Or does it only count if they're from Texas?

Allthough all this defending of the drug cheat simpson does show one thing, there clearly are many retarded idiots with stupid opinions like daddyELVIS !

Avatar
Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Hear hear DaddyElvis.
To "the doctor" ....appropriately you are a monumental cock!

Let's hope it's repaired soon, god bless you Mr Simson.

Avatar
Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Hear hear DaddyElvis.
To "the doctor" ....appropriately you are a monumental cock!

Let's hope it's repaired soon, god bless you Mr Simson.

Avatar
TheDoctor [186 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Guyz2010 wrote:

Hear hear DaddyElvis.
To "the doctor" ....appropriately you are a monumental cock!

Maybe but at least i'm not stupid like you, does your carer know youre on the internet ?

Avatar
teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
TheDoctor wrote:
Huw Watkins wrote:
TheDoctor wrote:

Just another monument to a drug cheat.

Hypocritical and Funny how everyone is cooing over this, yet villifying riders caught more recently.

Apples and potatoes

A different world and one without your astonishing vision - though perhaps a little more sympathy. C*ck

Yes yes well done, look at you all brave with your name calling!

A drug cheat is still a drug cheat! Or does it only count if they're from Texas?

Allthough all this defending of the drug cheat simpson does show one thing, there clearly are many retarded idiots with stupid opinions like daddyELVIS !

I can't see anyone "defending drugs cheats" on this thread. People would like to see the memorial repaired. People know he doped. He paid the ultimate price for it. Remembering that is important, and this memorial helps do just that.

Avatar
allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

It could indeed be argued that as well as commemorating Simpson, the memorial shows the folly of doping.

Avatar
Al__S [1033 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
allez neg wrote:

Millar (have you read his book ?) had the chance to make amends and redeem himself - an opportunity Simpson never had.

Quite. Millar did wrong. He accepts he did wrong. Under investigation, he told the police about occasions he'd doped that they would otherwise never have known about. He's worked hard since to help turn the sport around.

But then he doesn't mind that some people will not forgive him. He says polarising figures are good- better than being bland.

He's not like Simpson- who paid the ultimate price. He's not like Lance, who was a bully and a mastermind as well as a doper, and is (that Oprah bull aside) unrepentent.

Avatar
spatuluk [27 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The cycling gods are angry!

Avatar
alexholt3 [53 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I don't understand, it's not that big, why can't it just be picked up and concreted down?

Avatar
missfaversham [5 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I dont think the name calling is necessary, It's a forum, people post opinions. We may not agree, but hey that's life.
For what it's worth, I am sorry a talented Rider died in pursuit of glory. It is also a shame that a monument to him has been damaged. However as he is known to have had amphetamine in his system at the time of his demise, I feel it is fair comment to question the thought processes of people in the general public who now hold him in such high regard whilst at the same time vilifying modern day cheats. To take a point from an earlier post, are not some of the current crop of dopers also imperfect and charismatic?.
I think most would agree that the man was talented, and had grit, but should we condone drug use?. Probably not.
Should we applaud someone who literally rides themself to death?, and more to the point what does that say about us?.

Avatar
southseabythesea [148 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I should imagine a few steel strengthening bars into the base and then cement up would do the trick. Hope to see it back up soon.

Avatar
Hoester [68 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Trite comment about drug usage is irrelevant, as is the balance of opinion over the validity of his athletic achievement.
I didn't personally know Mr Simpson, I'm not old enough to have had even the outside opportunity. From reading about his life it seems he touched the hearts and minds of a great many people, and left his friends and family too early.
Behind every dead cycling persona was a human being, with human failings and a network of people living with the grief of their loss. This transcends the sporting arena, and applies to us all. We should all respect the wishes of a great many people who want to continue to remember this Gentleman who happened to be a cyclist.

Avatar
farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

At this years tour Sky went used up 3000 Gatorade water bottles, which will have, on various occasions, contained water or fluids to speed up replacing whatever the riders had lost.

In Tom's day they were allowed around 2 litres of water a day.

There wasn't the science there is now, to equate the drug use back then to today's doping practices is like comparing your patio to my staircase.

Would you class this as cheating today?

http://www.sportpursuit.com/wp_blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tour-de-f...

Avatar
farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

They actually managed to get their fags lit though!

Avatar
William Black [193 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
farrell wrote:

Would you class this as cheating today?

I don't know would you?

Avatar
Huw Watkins [97 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
missfaversham wrote:

I dont think the name calling is necessary, It's a forum, people post opinions. We may not agree, but hey that's life.
For what it's worth, I am sorry a talented Rider died in pursuit of glory. It is also a shame that a monument to him has been damaged. However as he is known to have had amphetamine in his system at the time of his demise, I feel it is fair comment to question the thought processes of people in the general public who now hold him in such high regard whilst at the same time vilifying modern day cheats. To take a point from an earlier post, are not some of the current crop of dopers also imperfect and charismatic?.
I think most would agree that the man was talented, and had grit, but should we condone drug use?. Probably not.
Should we applaud someone who literally rides themself to death?, and more to the point what does that say about us?.

Your considered comments do somewhat display a lack of knowledge about professional cycling - as did those of 'The Doctor'. Hence my anger and my response.

Drugs have been endemic in the sport since its genesis. Whether ether, cocaine, heroin or strychnine, drugs were adopted wholesale at the outset to enable riders to cope with the extreme challenges they were set by race organisers.

However, in 2013 we all have very different ideas about what is now acceptable - as we do about many other issues that the majority were more than happy to live with in 1903 e.g. the 50% depopulation of the Congo, mustard gas, the non-emancipation of women, etc, etc

Tom Simpson's death was notable for a number of reasons: he was a very popular and successful rider, and it happened on camera.

It could very well be argued that it was his death that began the whole change in attitude towards (and the regulation of) PEDs in cycling that has led us to our current position of 20/20 vision and moral rectitude.

From that point onwards, we have indeed started to think about what it says about us and what we expect of others in this arena.

The reasons behind the ongoing admiration for Simpson are complex but only someone without the full context would struggle not to describe him as a victim.

p.s. If it helps at all, I'd be very happy to call The Doctor a cock to his face.

Avatar
Huw Watkins [97 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

[deleted and edited]

Avatar
missfaversham [5 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Tom Simpson absolutely should be respected as a man, as should the wishes of him, his family and friends. Equally everyone has the right to remember him as they wish.

The question - Is drug use in the 60's comparable to the 90's onwards?. Well, each race is run with a set of rules stating what is or is not allowed. If someone sets out to deliberately do something to gain an advantage that is not permitted under the rules which were current at the time, and it is not done for the sake of their own wellbeing such as drinking water when required, then I would argue that the act could well be regarded as cheating. As such I think a comparison can be drawn when considering attitudes to cheating.

If we choose to gloss over the cheating of the past , and continue to revere the legends that went down this route then we implicitly accept their practices and therefore risk them remaining an integral part of the culture of the sport.

Avatar
farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
missfaversham wrote:

If we choose to gloss over the cheating of the past , and continue to revere the legends that went down this route then we implicitly accept their practices and therefore risk them remaining an integral part of the culture of the sport.

No, no we don't. We can accept and love cycling's past for what it was whilst still evolving. Otherwise we'd still see riders on fixed wheel bikes and wooden rims.

Pages