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.
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 pic.twitter.com/vfYF9slMQ3— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) March 3, 2020
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.
More from Yahoo Sports: