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Ineos sport director Nicolas Portal dies at 40

The former pro helped guide Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal to historic yellow jerseys

The peloton was stunned Tuesday with news that Team Ineos sport director and former professional Nicolas Portal died. He was 40 years old.

Team Ineos officials confirmed reports that Portal died of a heart attack at his home in Andorra.

“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,” a team statement read. “RIP Nico – your spirit will always be with us on the road and you will forever be in our hearts.”

The Frenchman raced nine seasons, with Ag2r and Caisse d’Epargne, before closing out his pro career as one of the founding members of Team Sky in 2010. Though he only won one race — a stage at the Dauphiné in 2004 — his affable personality, road skills and tactical acumen helped him immensely as he shifted into the role of sport director.

By 2013, he emerged as one of the team’s top directors, helping Chris Froome battle to his first yellow jersey. Portal was with Froome for every Tour he won, and helped Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal achieve their Tour successes as well.

Condolences poured in across social media. Michal Kwiatkowski wrote, “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.” Froome wrote, “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.”

The VeloNews organization sends condolences to his friends and family.