Vale Nico Portal; more coronavirus cases from UAE Tour: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers.

We come to you today with some sad news out of Andorra – much-loved Team Ineos sports director Nicolas Portal has died of a heart attack at just 40 years old. The former pro’s passing has triggered an outpouring of grief and disbelief from within the cycling community with most commenting about how genuine and, well, nice Portal was.

Ineos rider Tao Geoghegan Hart posted this fitting tribute to Twitter:

“I never met someone Nico didn’t have time for. I never met someone who didn’t think the world of Nico. He was a true inspiration. His energy, his humility & his passion for life shone so brightly. Nico Portal, it was an honour to work with you. We will all miss you immensely.”

Our thoughts are with Nico’s family, friends and colleagues over at Ineos.

What’s News

| Ineos DS Nicolas Portal dies at home in Andorra

Nicolas Portal, Ineos’ grand tour director sportif and a former professional racer, has died.

Portal was at his home in Andorra when he passed, apparently of a heart attack. He was 40 years old.

“We are all overcome with grief at this terrible news and would ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time,” Team Ineos said in a statement on its website.

| Six more cases of coronavirus reported from UAE Tour

The UAE’s official news agency, WAM, is reporting six new cases of coronavirus from the UAE Tour.

The report, which cites the UAE health ministry, suggests that two Russians, two Italians, one German and one Colombian have been infected, in addition to the two Italian team staff who tested positive during the race.

“The patients were connected to the two previously announced cases associated with the cycling event, the UAE Tour,” the report said.

| Four teams remain in lockdown after UAE Tour

Riders from Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, Gazprom and UAE-Team Emirates remain at the UAE Tour team hotel in Abu Dhabi following the race’s premature end. While UAE-Team Emirates has decided to self-quarantine, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ and Gazprom are reportedly being held against their will, with only limited access to information.

“We are treated as if we have the plague, our rooms haven’t been made up in five days and we have to go to the lift to pick up sheets, soap and towels,” said Cofidis president Thierry Vittu, who is with his team in the hotel. “I think that this situation is really not normal. We’re being held against our will in a place we didn’t choose and for an unknown length of time.”

UAE authorities said they were awaiting the outcome of a second series of tests before allowing the teams to depart.

| NAHBS postponed due to coronavirus

In other coronavirus news, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) has been moved from later this month to August following concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

“Based on current news reports and travel restrictions, and in talking to many NAHBS exhibitors, media, and partners over the past week, I’ve made the difficult decision to postpone NAHBS and reschedule this year’s show,” wrote show founder Don Walker in an email to exhibitors and event partners. “As a global show that attracts people from all parts of the world, and in evaluating the current variables and public health risks, I feel this is in everyone’s best interest.”

Several overseas exhibitors, including some from Italy, had previously told Walker than getting to NAHBS this year would be tricky due to travel restrictions.

| Chantal Blaak and Hugo Hofstetter win Le Samyn

Former world champ Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) has taken out Le Samyn in imposing fashion, attacking from the lead group with around 60 km to go and winning solo by nearly two minutes. It’s Blaak’s third win at the Belgian one-day race since 2015.

In the men’s race, Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation) won the sprint from a group of 10, to take just his second victory as a pro.

| Nick White claims stage 3 at the Tour de Taiwan

For the second year running, Australia’s former U23 champ Nick White (BridgeLane) has won stage 3 of the Tour of Taiwan.

White took out the bunch sprint ahead of stage 1 winner Eric Young (Elevate-Webiplex) and Jaume Sureda (Burgos-BH), a year after winning the same stage at the 2019 edition. White’s fellow Australian Ryan Cavanagh (St George) leads the five-stage race after winning stage 2.

In case you missed it

| Urban Arrow Family long-term review

It’s fair to say our global tech editor James Huang is a fan of Urban Arrow’s e-cargo bike. He’s in the midst of a long-term review, and posted this update yesterday.

| Valentin Madouas, The Invisible Man

We’re digging this piece from James Startt over at VeloNews. It’s a nice little feature about a French rider who banged up his face one day, was taken to hospital, then started the next day’s race covered in bandages. Worth a read.

| Aussie team upbeat after frustrating Track Worlds

If you like your track cycling, you’ll want to check this out from Kieran Pender over at SBS Cycling Central. It’s a good look at how the Aussie track team was able to find positives in what looked from the outside to be a rather lacklustre Track World Championships last week.


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Today’s featured image comes from Cor Vos and shows Nico Portal on the attack during the 2006 Eneco Tour.

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