Looking back at region’s cycling greats on the eve of the Tour de Yorkshire
All cycling enthusiasts are looking forward to the Tour de Yorkshire once again this year. Doncaster hosts the start of the race from the Market Square on May 2.
In this week’s edition of the Free Press we take a look back at past events and also remember two of the cycling greats from the region.
These included Doncaster’s own Tommy Simpson from the village of Harworth.
It was on July 13, 1967, almost 52 years ago that he succumbed to blazing heat on Mont Ventoux, collapsing near the summit of the French peak as he strove for success in the 13th stage of the race.
In his eighth year as a pro-cyclist, Simpson, 29, was keen to make an impact and after the first week, was in sixth place.
Falling ill with diarrhoea, some told him to quit, but he made the fateful decision to plough on, eventually meeting his fate in temperatures topping 45C on the dusty, arrid slopes of that barren French mountainside.
As the race reached the lower slopes, Simpson was seen taking a number of pills with brandy and by the time he had climbed towards the summit, he was zig-zagging across the road. He fell but was able to get back on but after riding a short distance further, collapsed.
He was pronounced dead after being airlifted to hospital and a post-mortem found he had taken amphetamine and alcohol.
Another famous cyclist from the region is seven-times World champion cyclist Beryl Burton from Morley.
Beryl dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, winning more than 90 domestic championships and setting numerous national records. She set a women's record for the 12-hour time-trial which exceeded the men's record for two years. To be included in the retro section send J peg images and information to [email protected] email address.