Nicolas Portal has died of a heart attack aged 40.
The Ineos sports director passed away suddenly at his home in Andorra on the afternoon of Tuesday March 3, according to a statement released by the team.
The full statement reads: “It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the passing of our much loved team-mate, 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.”
Portal was widely known as a friendly, open and likeable member of the cycling community, with tributes flooding in from riders, staff, former team-mates and members of the media who all knew him.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome posted: “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”
Former Sky rider Pete Kennaugh tweeted: “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.”
Portal was a professional rider between 2002-2010, first riding for Ag2r La Mondiale before moving to Caisse d’Epargne (now Movistar), riding the Tour de France six times between 2003 and 2008. His biggest career victory came on a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in 2004. Portal’s final season as a professional was spent with Team Sky, then becoming a sports director for the team after retiring.
At the 2013 Tour de France he was the youngest sports director in the race as he helped guide Chris Froome to his first Tour victory, going on to achieve six Tour titles with the team as well as a Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España title.
Our thoughts are with Portal’s family and friends as well as all those at Team Ineos.