The Tour de France starts in Leeds on Saturday and one of the books we’ve been reading is ‘Put me back on the bike’ by William Fotheringham. It’s about Tom Simpson, Olympic gold medallist, world champion and first Briton to wear the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France. He died a tragic death on the barren moonscape that is Mont Ventoux during the 1967 tour.
The book details Simpson’s rise to cycling fame from working class roots, his move to France with £100 in his pocket and his pursuit of winning at all costs and what motivated him.
He was a man of contradictions, one of the first cyclists to admit to using drugs or ‘tonics’ as they were often called, and a self publicist ahead of his time. He was also accused of fixing races yet despite his flaws, ‘Major Tom’ as he was known was deeply mourned. The part about his actual death shows someone with an obsessive will to win and is very affecting. Highly recommended.
Tom Simpson wrote his own autobiography ‘Cycling is my Life’