Tom Simpson & Why you never see a rabbit with a cold

Much is known about Tom Simpson’s last day, when he died tragically near the top of the Mont Ventoux in 1967’s Tour De France. His body collapsed under heat, exhaustion and amphetamins in his blood.

Not so much is known about his very strict diet that he kept between the competitions, and that his wife Helen supported him with. William Fotheringham describes in detail Simpsons eating habits, where fresh vegetables dominated. Simpson, interestingly, was obsessed with carrot juice, of which he would often drink more than 1 litre per day, hoping it would ward of illness and boost his haemoglobin. (Hence his comment: ‘You never see a rabbit with a cold.’) He kept a copy of Raymond Dextreit’s “Les Cures du Jus”, which deals with ‘the problems of nutrition in the light of science and naturalist experience’.

With books on dietary advice for sports men in its early days, Simpson developed a number of ‘dietary quirks, a mix of old wives’ tales and good science: duck and trout skin, for the vitamins contain, for example. He was also a great man for his herbal teas, particularly blackcurrant, for its Vitamin C, and also rasberry leaf, for its muscle-toning properties.’ Further, he ate garlic in ‘copious amounts’, for its antiseptic and blood-thinning qualities.

Excerpts taken from: William Fotheringham, “Put Me Back On My Bike – In Search of Tom Simpson”, p. 77f.

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