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Paris-Nice 1967. Part 1.See Part 2

Background

Tom SimpsonBecause Bradley Wiggins is the favourite to win the 2012 Paris-Nice, I’m going to do a stage by stage look at the last and only time a British rider won this prestigious race. It was 1967 and Paris-Nice ran from March 8th to March 14th. I’ll do a new front page for each stage as this year’s race progresses, with a brief summary of what happened, so you can see how Tom Simpson won it.

1967 was going to be a big year for him. The announcement that the Tour de France would be contested by national instead of trade teams meant he could leave Peugeot BP, where he’d never been happy.

Simpson had to stay with Peugeot before thisbecause they wouldn’t let him ride the Tour de France unless he signed for the following season. The Tour was just as important for a racer’s profile as it is now, but it was also the key to getting in the post-Tour criterium circuit, which paid start money. A good Tour meant a race every day through August, and every race was an extra pay day.

As soon as the Tour organizers decided that the 1967 race would be for national teams, Simpson signed a good contract with the Italian team Salvarani for 1968 and 1969, where he’d be the co-leader with his friend, Felice Gimondi.

Simpson had high hopes for the future. He was 29 and planned to race on the road until he was at least 33 then concentrate of six-day track racing, which was big then. In the short term he wanted to ride a good Tour de France and harboured hopes of getting on the podium in 1967.

To that end he was concentrating on stage races and not the Classics so much. He’d already won a stage of the Tour of Sardinia, and was planning an attempt at the world hour record after the Tour de France.

So, overall victory in Paris-Nice was his number one objective for the first part of 1967. The only thing that might get in the way was the fact that it was also the number one objective of his team mate, Eddy Merckx. He was only 23, a prodigy who'd been a pro since 1965 but was already winning big races, like Milan-San Remo in 1966. It was going to be a tricky week, one that would see the two stars not speaking to each other then end up firm friends.