Team INEOS to withdraw from all racing until March 23 after tragic death of sports director Nico Portal amid concerns over coronavirus crisis
- The cycling team confirmed in a statement that Portal died suddenly on Tuesday
- Reports in Italy and France have claimed the Frenchman suffered a heart attack
- Team has announced they are pulling out of all racing until the Volta a Catalunya
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Team INEOS has announced they are pulling out of all racing until the Volta a Catalunya on March 23.
The decision has been taken in light of the tragic death of their sporting director Nicolas Portal and the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Team INEOS will miss six different races over the next three weeks.
Team Ineos sporting director Nicolas Portal has tragically passed away at the age of 40
Manager Sir Dave Brailsford said: ‘We are taking this decision to put a temporary pause on racing because of this unique set of circumstances we are facing. It is right for the team given what has happened but I also believe it is in the best interests of both cycling and the wider public.’
French sports daily L’Equipe and Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that Portal died of cardiac arrest.
Portal was a former rider who retired in 2010 after one season with Team Sky, having missed much of the previous year because of heart problems.
Portal (L) helped oversee Chris Froome’s (R) four Tour de France triumphs from 2013 to 2017
He was appointed sporting director at Team Sky, Team Ineos’s predecessor, in 2013 and helped Froome to win his first Tour de France title in the same year.
He helped to steer Froome to a further three titles as well as guiding Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal to Tour wins in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
As a rider, his best career result was a stage victory on the Criterium du Dauphine Libere in 2004.