Chris Froome: ‘Nico Portal is irreplaceable - it’s hard to know where to go from here’

The four-time Tour de France winner has paid tribute to the man behind all his Grand Tour victories

Chris Froome says Nicolas Portal is irreplaceable in Team Ineos.

Former pro and sports director Portal died suddenly at his home in Andorra earlier this week, at 40 years old.

The Frenchman had a remarkable legacy in cycling, as he guided three different Team Ineos riders to eight Grand Tour victories.

Chris Froome, four-time Tour de France winner, said on Instagram: “I have been at a loss for words since I heard the news.

“Aside from what an amazing friend, father and husband Nico was, I don’t think people understand how important and influential Nico was in our team’s success over the years.

“He is completely irreplaceable to the point where it’s hard to imagine where to go from here.”

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The cycling world has been mourning the loss of Portal, who died after suffering a heart attack on Tuesday afternoon (March 3).

Portal, a pro from 2001 until 2010, ended his career with Sky Procyling in 2010 due to a heart condition, going on to become a hugely successful and respected DS.

During his time as a director, Portal was behind the wheel of the team car for all of Chris Froome’s Tour de France victories, as well as his 2017 Vuelta a España win and the 2018 Giro d’Italia victory.

He was also DS for Geraint Thomas's 2018 Tour and Egan Bernal’s history-making yellow jersey win last year.

Froome added: “He was with me through the hard times, picking me up any time I doubted myself, and right by my side encouraging me to every success.

“He has left a truly phenomenal legacy. I will ride in his memory and do all I can to honour him and all that he taught me.”

Portal started his racing career in 2001 with AG2R Prévoyance, going on to ride for Caisse d’Epargne before he spent his last year in the peloton with Sky Procycling in 2010.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.