A flood of tributes have already poured in to “true inspiration” Nicolas Portal after his death, aged 40.
The former pro and Team Ineos sports director was a hugely popular figured both inside and outside the peloton and the death has hit the cycling world hard.
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Riders from Team Ineos and those in the media who knew portal have spoke of his “humility, passion and energy.”
Former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski said: “I don’t want to believe it. Always smiling, always fit, always full of energy. Life is not fair. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP Nico.”
Brit Tao Geoghegan Hart said: “I never met someone Nico didn’t have time for. I never met someone who didn’t think the world of Nico. He was a true inspiration. His energy, his humility, his passion for life shone so brightly.
“Nico Portal, it was an honour to work with you. We will all miss you immensely.”
Their fellow Team Ineos rider Salvatore Puccio said: “The news you never want to hear, RIP Nico.”
Peter Kennaugh, a former Team Sky rider who said Portal was his first room-mate as a pro, added: “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 ever wish to meet. Words can’t explain how much he will be missed.”
News emerged on Tuesday evening (March 3) that Frenchman Portal had died suddenly at his home in Andorra.
Reports say that Portal, who rode as a professional from 2001 until 2010, died from a heart attack.
After starting his career with Ag2r Prévoyance, he went on to ride for Caisse d’Epargne before seeing out the final year of his racing career with Sky Procycling.
But it was as a tactician and DS that Portal found his true calling, as he became an integral part of Team Sky, later Team Ineos, as a Grand Tour winning machine.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step said on Twitter: “We are in shock and saddened by this dreadful. Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts go to Team Ineos, the family and friends of Nicolas Portal, a man who loved life and cycling, but was taken too soon from this world.”
Lotto-Soudal said: “So sad to hear the shocking news that Team Ineos team director Nicolas Portal passed away. Just 40 years old. So unfair. Big thoughts to his family and team.”
Alex Dowsett, a former Team Sky rider now with Israel Start-Up Nation, said: “Devastated to hear this. Thoughts with you all, Nico’s family and friends. RIP.”
Cycling journalist Orla Chennaoui said: “Nico Portal was a rare being in professional sport – a gentleman who always had time and a smile for everyone.
“I first met him as a rider and through all his success as a DS he never seemed to change.
“A kindly father and father figure. My heart goes out to his family and the team.”