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Tinkov: Egan Bernal will win the Tour de France

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Oleg Tinkov at the Tour de France

Oleg Tinkov at the Tour de France (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tinkoff team boss Oleg Tinkov rode the course today

Tinkoff team boss Oleg Tinkov rode the course today (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Oleg Tinkov steals the limelight at sign on

Oleg Tinkov steals the limelight at sign on (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)
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Oleg Tinkov and Team Sky's David Brailsford at the 2016 Tour de France

Oleg Tinkov and Team Sky's David Brailsford at the 2016 Tour de France
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Oleg Tinkov went for pink hair on the final stage

Oleg Tinkov went for pink hair on the final stage (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) attacks on the Col du Galibier

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) attacks on the Col du Galibier (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Former team owner Oleg Tinkov has returned to the Tour de France – but this time, as a two-wheeled fan.

Tinkov was present in the team ‘paddock’ at the stage 19 start at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, clad in full Tinkoff team kit and riding around on a bike

Other members of his group of friends were briefly unable to enter the main teams area, apparently because they had no accreditation, but Tinkov made his way through nonetheless.

"I have come back to this and it all looks exactly the same," Tinkov told a small cluster of reporters. "I’ve been away from three years and there are no changes."

Tinkov says he has not been watching much of the race. But he certainly knows enough to argue that Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is his favourite to win the Tour de France.

"There are plenty of climbs at 1,800 metres so normally he should win," he said. "That’s my prediction, I don’t know. It’s an open race, it’s nice."

A colourful if somewhat controversial character who was never afraid of speaking his mind, Tinkov added he has no plans to return to sponsoring a bike team.

"Maybe at some point I’ll have a team but I’m not considering it right now."

Tinkov started backing teams from 2006-08 with Tinkoff Restaurants and Tinkoff Credit Systems, returning in 2012 as sponsor at Saxo Bank, and taking full ownership two years later. In 2016, he brought down the curtain on his WorldTour squad, which won the Vuelta a España twice and the Giro d'Italia once, all with Alberto Contador.