Nicolas Portal, director for Chris Froomes' Tour de France victories, dies at 40

 Sports director of Team Sky Nicolas Portal rides a bike during the lap of honor after the twenty one and last stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 134 km individual time trial stage between Evry and the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 27, 2014 in Paris France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Nicolas Portal died at home at the age of 40. (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Nicolas Portal, a former cyclist who oversaw six Tour de France victories as a sporting director, died Tuesday from a heart attack in his home in Andorra, per reports. He was 40.

Team Ineos announced “the passing of our much loved teammate, colleague and friend.” The statement said he “died suddenly.”

“RIP Nico — your spirit will always be with us on the road and you will forever be in our hearts,” the team wrote in the announcement.

Portal oversaw Froome’s 4 Tour championships

Portal was the sporting director at Team Ineos during Chris Froomes’ four Tour de France wins. He won titles in 2013, which made Portal the youngest director to win at 34, and then again from 2014 to 2017.

Portal also oversaw wins by Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Geraint Thomas in 2018. The team, launched in 2010, was called “Team Sky” prior to a change in ownership in March 2019.

The sporting director (“directeur sportif”) is akin to a coach and follows the peloton in a car to relay tactics and information with riders and organizers.

Professional career: 7 Grand Tours

Portal was a successful professional cyclist in the 2000s and raced seven Grand Tours. He competed in the Tour de France six times and did the Vuelta a España once.

The cyclist began as a trainee with French team AG2R Prevoyance in 2001 and was with them through 2005. He moved to Caisse d’Epargne for three seasons.

He moved to Team Sky and missed most of the 2009 season due to cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, but returned to face a full 2010 season. Afterward, he served as manager and then as sporting director.

He had top-10 finishes at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, Tour du Limousin and on three occasions during stages of the Grande Boucle. He had a stage first-place finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2004.

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