___Race Snippets


45th Ronde van Vlaanderen 1961 / Tour of Flanders (Belgium)


By Barry Boyce and Graham Jones, CyclingRevealed Historians


Also read:

The Flanders Lion Tamer




Simpson the Lion Tamer

Before 1961 only seven non-Belgians had won from the 44 preceding editions of the Tour of Flanders. In 1961 Tom's form was clear but the odds were against him. The Ronde is the biggest race on the calendar as far as Belgians are concerned. The winner, whoever he is, becomes an instant honorary Lion of Flanders.

Right from the gun the hostilities started. World Champion Rik an Looy attracted a crowd when he attacked and defending champion Tuur de Cabooter, British star Tom Simpson formed a breakaway group.

The first break worked well and when four additional riders, including Tom's teammate Jo De Haan, bridged up to the break the winning move ha been made. All season he had experienced near misses and several times had been outgunned by his own teammates. But on this day Tom was imperious, confident and flying.

Disaster struck race favorite Van Looy on the climb of the Kruisberg, when the champion crashed heavily. Gallantly Van Looy tried to continue but abandoned in Zottegem.

The breakaway entered the closing laps of Wetteren. Simpson jumped away from the breakaway with Italian Nino De Fillippis on his wheel. Not known as a sprinter Simpson had to outsmart the faster Italian. Tom started his sprint about 1km from the line with the Italian sitting happily behind him. At the 300 meter mark Tom eased off just a little and De Filippis thinking that Simpson was cooked jumped passed him on the right. Tom immediately switched across the road and passed De Filippis on his right. Thinking that he had the race won the Italian looked over his left shoulder. No Tom! This confused him momentarily and Tom lunged past him on his right take a spectacular victory.

SPECIAL NOTE: The 1961 edition of Flanders now had 6 climbs: The Oude Kwaremont, Kruisberg, Kerselareberg, Valkenberg, Kasteelstraat, and Grotenberg. (Total bergs 6)

Flanders March 26, 1961
255 Km, Gent to Wetteren

1. Tom SIMPSON (GBr) 6h22'00"

2. Nino De Filippis (Ita)

3. Jo De Haan (Hol) +11"

Starters: 146
Finishers: 53
Average Speed: 35.340 km/h



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“Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”
Fausto Coppi, Italian
"Champion of Champions"