The cycling world is mourning the loss of Nicolas Portal, the former pro and director of Team Ineos who died at his Andorran home yesterday of a heart attack.
Team Ineos announced Portal’s passing in a tweet on Tuesday 3 March:
Portal raced nine seasons as a pro, with AG2R Prévoyance (01-05) and Caisse d’Epargne (06-09) before moving to SKY for the team’s debut season in 2010. In 2004 he took is sole professiona win on Stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.
After hanging up his pedals at the end of that season he remained with Sky as a Directeur Sportif despite knowing little English something he swiftly overcame as his skills as a DS became readily apparent.
His emergence as one of the best Directeur Sportif’s in the peloton was exemplified by the successes of Chris Froome, whom he looked after for each of his wins, and latterly those of Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, but more than that was his generous and affable personality. His ready smile and relaxed nature stood out in an environment that is known for its taciturn undemonstrative team managers.
While Portal’s death has come as a shock to the cycling world the Frenchman had already suffered heart problems having missed much of the 2009 season with cardic arrhythmia. It was perhaps because of this lurking threat he approached life with such good hearted infectious passion. He will be missed on all levels by so many, not least his wife and children.
Since then tributes have been pouring in from teams, riders and race organisers:
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 pic.twitter.com/vfYF9slMQ3— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) March 3, 2020
What a sad and terrible news! Our sincere condolences to family & team.— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) March 3, 2020
Devastated to hear this. Thoughts with you all, Nico’s family and friends. RIP ♥️— Alex Dowsett (@alexdowsett) March 3, 2020