Tao Geoghegan Hart remembers late sports director Nicolas Portal: "Thousands of people came to the cathedral to mourn Nico. That showed his great legacy"

This Sunday, Tao Geoghegan Hart was present at pre-race Tirreno-Adriatico press conference as leader of Lidl-Trek, but his head was also elsewhere. After the obligatory press talk, In de Leiderstrui asked the Briton about the dark day from four years ago, when his sports director Nicolas Portal passed away.

Geoghegan Hart was supposed to ride Paris-Nice with then Team Sky, but that changed. "When we got the news, of course we didn't go to the race. A week later we attended the funeral, where thousands of people came to the cathedral to mourn Nico. That already showed what a great legacy he had among the local population and in the cycling community."

"Everyone lives with loss, that is the great inevitable in life. If you have an injury, you will eventually deal with it, even if that is six months later. That's nothing compared to a boy losing his father and a woman losing her husband. Nico's death was also a great loss for the INEOS team. Not only on a sporting level, but also on a personal and emotional level. We must continue to remember that."

Portal was particularly important to Geoghegan Hart on a personal level, he says. "Everyone has one or two specific conversations they remember. He had a very special quality for connecting with people. That's why everyone has a special moment. We must try to remember that forever and also be a bit like him."

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