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Team Ineos Grenadiers director Dave Brailsford spoke of how deeply he missed his former colleague and the team’s sports director Nicolas Portal.
Portal, who passed away unexpectedly this past March at the age of 40, was honored Sunday with a memorial at a cycling museum in Pau, France.
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Portal’s widow Magalie and her two children were present at the unveiling of the memorial, which was presented by the mayor of Pau, Francois Bayrou, in the town where Portal lived.
Brailsford recruited the multilingual — and widely popular — French former rider as sports director for Team Sky in 2011.
“It’s not about what we are not getting from him in a work context, it’s just that we miss him as a person,” Brailsford said visibly moved.
Portal played a crucial role in the outfit’s seven Tours wins, but was very much liked by the team and those who are part of the cycling community.
“You know Nico worked with us for a long time,” Brailsford said, measuring his words. “Rather than think about it in cycling terms or professional ones, we just miss him, we miss him as a person rather than anything about us.”
Brailsford and Portal helped Bradley Wiggins to a Tour de France win in 2012, Chris Froome to wins in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017, Geraint Thomas in 2018, and also with Bernal in 2019.