According to reports, the young cyclist died of a heart attack in his home at Andorra– Team Ineos is currently in a state of shock and grief.
UCI World Team, Team Ineos cyclist Briton Chris Froome spearheaded the tributes to Nicolas Portal, who was Team Ineos Sporting director or Directeur who died at the young age of 40. Retired top cyclist Nicolas Portal had helped see Briton Chris Froome through his four triumphs during the Tour de France between 2013 and 2017.
Briton Chris Froome later took to Twitter to say, “My thoughts are with Nico’s wife and children tonight. He was the kindest, happiest guy I knew and always lived life to the fullest. Rest In Peace Nico,”
According to a statement from Team Ineos, Frenchman Nicolas Portal had died on Tuesday afternoon at home in Andorra. The statement read, “It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the passing of our much-loved teammate, colleague and friend Nico Portal who died suddenly this afternoon at his home in Andorra, “. “We are all overcome with grief at this terrible news and would ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time. RIP Nico — your spirit will always be with us on the road, and you will forever be in our hearts.”
According to L’Equipe, a French sports daily, Former top cyclist Nicolas Portal had died of cardiac arrest. In 2010, Nicolas Portal retired as a cyclist after one season with Team Sky, and he had missed so much of the previous year as a result of heart problems. Sean Yates retired in 2012, and in 2013 Frenchman Nicolas Portal was appointed Team Ineos predecessor and Team Sky Sporting Director, where he helped Briton Chris Froome win his very first title at Tour de France in the same year.
Portal happened to be the youngest sports director at that time with a World Tour team. Nicolas Portal helped set up the Team’s dominance at the Tour de France when helped oversee Chris Froome attain three more Tour de France titles. He also guided Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to Tour de France victories.
Here is what retired World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski had to say, “I don’t want to believe it. Always smiling, always fit, always full of energy. Life is not fair.” Kwiatkowski is still in shock and denial over the tragic news of Nicolas Portal’s passing.
Pete Kennaugh, who was also once a member of the team sky, said, “My first roommate as a pro. I can’t believe the news of Nico Portal passing away. My thoughts and love are with his family who he cherished more than anything. The friendliest, most genuine, kind person you could wish to meet, words can’t explain how much he will be missed.”
One of Nicolas Portal’s most notable moments during his career on the bike was his stage victory in 2004 at the Criterion du Dauphine Libere. He had also competed six times in Tour de France as a rider before retiring in 2010 when he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. He was part of the plotting with Sky Team to help cyclist Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France in 2012 and become the first-ever British to emerge winner at the Tour. He helped Colombian Egan Bernal gain the honors for Team Ineos last year.
Directeur Sportif, as it was called, was just as similar as the role of head coach in football since he had to communicate with the riders about tactics and to deliver any relevant information, and following the peloton in a car as well as liaising with the game heads and organizers.
Thomas Geraint also took to Twitter and wrote, “Can’t quite get my head around it, it’s too sad. Nico was so talented, warm, genuine, and always there when I needed him,” Thomas said on Twitter with a picture he posted that showed both himself and the late Nicolas Portal. “He was more than my colleague, and he was my friend. My thoughts are with his wife and children, who he put above everything else. I’ll always remember him dancing with his little girl in Paris into the early hours. He was too young to be taken away from them. Nico, I’ll miss you mate, you were one of the good ones.”