The former Italian team manager and directeur sportif Giancarlo Ferretti has talked about the moment he handed the late Tommy Simpson a bottle containing alcohol just before the British rider collapsed and died near the summit of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France.
Ferretti is now 71 and has not worked as a team manager since the demise of the Fassa Bortolo team seven years ago. He raced as a professional between 1963 and 1970 before going on to direct and manage the Bianchi-Campagnolo, Ariostea, MG-Technogym and Fassa Bortolo teams.
He has recently written his memoirs and recalled the tragic moment with Simpson in an interview with Tuttobiciweb.it.
Simpson collapsed and died near the summit of Mont Ventoux. The post mortem examination found that he had taken amphetamines and alcohol while riding, which proved fatal when combined with the extreme heat and fatigue.
Ferretti recalls passing Simpson shouting to him for a bidon containing alcohol.
"It's only my theory but I remember that terribly hot day," Ferretti said.
"I can remember that there was a man who was running alongside the road with a military style drink bottle, covered in green material and with a cork top tied with a chain. I took it off him because I was dying of thirst but I smelt it first and realised it was alcohol. I looked back angrily and Simpson shouted at me: 'Don't throw it away, give it to me.' I did."
"Then later on, three kilometres from the finish, I saw the doctors treating a rider on the right hand side of the road. The gendarmes were telling everyone to keep going."
Ferretti believes Simpson could be alive today if teams had been able to hand out drinks during the stage.
"I noticed that even though it wasn't allowed to get water from the team cars, the judges and race organisers were handing out bottles of water," he said.
"That evening, when we heard about Tommy's death, I spoke to Felice (Gimondi). If they'd given out water earlier, that tragedy wouldn't have happened."