04 Jul 2022, 10:30 AM

STA, 4 July 2022 - Slovenia finished the first round of qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup second in their group having scraped past Sweden 84:81 after a nail-biting finish in Stockholm on Sunday. NBA stars Luka Dončić and Goran Dragić scored 51 points between them as Dragić bid farewell to the national team as its top overall scorer in history.

Slovenia won four out of six matches in the first round for a total of 10 points, which places them second in Group C after Finland, who have got 11. Sweden enter the second round with eight points, while Croatia dropped out.

In the second round, starting in late August, Slovenia will face off Germany, who finished top of their group with 11 points, Israel (9 points) and Estonia (8 points) in Group J, which also includes Sweden. The top three teams advance to the World Cup, to be held in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.

After crushing Croatia last Thursday, Slovenia were unable to show off the fast pace they have become known for, having quite some difficulty coping with Sweden's defence. Sweden also outdid Slovenia on rebounds (38:35) and turnovers with the point per turnover ratio at 19:11.

Slovenia soon opened a double-digit advantage (15:5) but the home team took the lead in the 17th minute for 30:29, retaining a balance in court up to the final seconds. Four minutes to the end of the match the teams were equalised at 75:75.

The superstar Dončić scored 31 points for Slovenia on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, with 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals, which gives him efficiency rating of 32. Scoring 11 points in the third quarter, he let Slovenia enter the final part of the game with a nine-point advantage (70:61).

However, after going up to 73:61, Slovenia allowed Sweden to come back. The key points for a win in the dying minutes of the game were scored by the Dragić brothers. Zoran scored a three-pointer for 80:79 and Goran took it to 82:81 in the final second on attack, and then went on to score two free throws two seconds before the final buzzer sound for the final score of 84:81.

In what was supposed to be his last appearance for the national side, captain Goran Dragić scored 20 points for a total of 1,581 points in his 81 official games for Slovenia since 2006, to outperform Jaka Lakovič's 1,564 points in 86 games.

Commenting on that for the STA, the 36-ear-old stayed modest: "That doesn't really matter. On the one hand, basketball is a team sport and wins count, but on the other hand, I'm sure the record will not stand for long, because here comes 'magic' Luka, who will easily surpass it."

On Slovenia's performance he said that despite the excellent atmosphere created by more than 8,500 fans at the Hovet arena that motivated the home team further to nullify Slovenia's early advantage and keep up until the end of the game, Slovenia won the match with their experience and knowledge.

"The games you need to win are usually the toughest, so we must be happy and keep on the path we have set out," he said.

Speaking to the STA later, he left the door open for his potential appearance for Slovenia in the Eurobasket. "I'm tempted to play in the Eurobasket," he said, ruling out his appearance in the August qualifying for the World Cup.

04 Jul 2022, 10:09 AM

STA, 3 July 2022 - Climber Janja Garnbret continued her winning streak on Saturday, taking first place in women's lead event in Villars, Switzerland, earning her 50th world cup podium and 34th first place.

The Olympic gold medallist was the only climber in male and female competition to make it to the top of both climbing walls in the semifinals and finals at yesterday's competition.

The win comes a week after her victorious return following a nearly three-month break. Last week, she became the only climber in the world with 33 world cup wins, further improving this distinction this weekend.

01 Jul 2022, 08:35 AM

STA, 1 July 2022 - Slovenia defeated Croatia 97:69 (33:8, 54:35, 76:51) in the fifth round of qualifying for the Basketball World Cup on Thursday, cheered on by a capacity crowd at the Stožice Arena that bid farewell to legend Goran Dragić. 

The home team set the pace in the first quarter, which it won with a 25-point gap after a 20:0 run driven by NBA stars Dragić and Luka Dončić.

The closest Croatia came to bouncing back was in the 19th minute, when the score was 49:35, but Slovenia soon opened a 20-plus point gap again.

Dončić was the top scorer with 21 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds, with Dragić adding 19 points and Mike Tobey 18.

It was an emotional evening for Dragić, who thanked all team members for "recreating the magic of 2017," when Slovenia became European champions.

"We had good chemistry. We have to take advantage of that and win in Stockholm, then we'll see how to go on," he said, leaving the door open for joining the team at the EuroBasket 2022 in September.

Dončić said the Stožice Arena crowd had shown once again that Slovenians are "the best fans in the world. They've put on a spectacle and I enjoyed every minute of it."

Slovenia, which have three wins now, will wrap up this stage of qualifying by facing Sweden on Sunday before moving on to the next stage of the World Cup qualifying.

27 Jun 2022, 08:43 AM

STA, 26 June 2022 - Olympic gold medallist Janja Garnbret won the World Cup lead event in Innsbruck on Sunday, becoming the first competitor to notch up 33 World Cup wins in climbing.

The win comes after a long break - she last competed in early April - during which she eschewed bouldering events to focus on lead, in particular the European Championship in August.

The plan did not exactly work out since she got Covid after the previous World Cup event, but it appears she nevertheless got in shape.

While she did not reach the top, her score of 39+ was enough to beat the American Brooke Raboutou and the South Korean Chaehyun Seo, both of whom scored 27+.

Three more lead events are on the calendar before the European Championship.

19 Jun 2022, 16:13 PM

STA, 19 June 2022 - Slovenia's star rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) has won the 28th Tour of Slovenia to defend the champion title from last year. He won the last stage on Sunday between Vrhnika, central Slovenia, and Novo Mesto, SE, after crossing the finish line together with compatriot Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious).

Pogačar, 23, a two-time Tour of France winner, finished the race three seconds ahead of Pole and his teammate Rafal Majka on aggregate.

His second Tour of Slovenia victory makes him one of the five racers that have won the Slovenian road race more than once - Italian Diego Ulissi (2011, 2019) as well as Slovenians Primož Roglič (2015, 2018), Jure Golčer (2006, 2008) and Mitja Mahorič (2003, 2004).

After managing all the pitfalls on the 155.7km route to the traditional finish in the city of Novo Mesto, including Trška Gora hill (2km/9%), he was also the best in the finishing sprint alongside Mohorič and Majka. Both Slovenians sprinted hard, but Pogačar was stronger and put on a green jersey.

Winners of Tour of Slovenia

1993  Boris Premužič (Slo)
1994  Tobias Steinhauser (Ger)
1995  Valter Bonča (Slo)
1996  Lorenzo di Silverstro (Ita)
1997  /
1998  Branko Filip (Slo)
1999  Tim Jones (Zim)
2000  Martin Derganc (Slo)
2001  Faat Zakirov (Rus)
2002  Evgeni Petrov (Rus)
2003  Mitja Mahorič (Slo)
2004  Mitja Mahorič (Slo)
2005  Przemyslav Niemiec (Pol)
2006  Jure Golčer (Slo)
2007  Tomaž Nose (Slo)
2008  Jure Golčer (Slo
2009  Jakob Fuglsang (Den)
2010  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
2011  Diego Ulissi (Ita)
2012  Jani Brajkovič (Slo)
2013  Radoslav Rogina (Cro)
2014  Tiago Machado (Por)
2015  Primož Roglič (Slo)
2016  Rein Taaramäe (Est)
2017  Rafal Majka (Pol)
2018  Primož Roglič (Slo)
2019  Diego Ulissi (Ita)
2020  /
2021  Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
2022  Tadej Pogačar (Slo)

- several-time winners:
- 2 victories:
Diego Ulissi (Ita), Primož Roglič, Jure Golčer, Mitja Mahorič,
Tadej Pogačar (Slo).
19 Jun 2022, 13:20 PM

STA, 19 June 2022 - Slovenian ultra-distance cyclist Marko Baloh, 54, has won the Race across the West in the US, which he took part in for the third time, clocking in 59 hours and 29 minutes.

The 1,497km race had more than 16,000 metres of climbing, running along the same route as the first part of the Race Across America (RAAM).

In a statement, Baloh said that apart from winning the race and setting a record in the 50+ age group, the goal was to get as close as possible to the average speed he achieved when he first won it in 2014 (28.9km per hour).

While the first two goals were achieved, Baolh said the third was not within his reach due the extreme heat.

He held on to his lead on the third and final night of the race in the solo competition, winning the stage at the same time as Team Alaska, which won the team category.

Baloh decided to take part because the Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme race from Moscow to Vladivostok was again rescheduled while organising participation in RAAM in such a short time was not feasible.

He is happy with the result and with the fact that he managed to keep in touch with the competition at RAAM, which bodes well for the rest of the season and for next year. After three years of waiting, he will join in 2023 the Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme.

19 Jun 2022, 08:16 AM

STA, 18 June 2022 - Slovenian cycling superstar Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) finished the fourth stage of the Tour of Slovenia second on Saturday, leaving the victory to his teammate Polish rider Rafal Majka only meters before the finish line on the Velika Planina mountain. But Pogačar remains in the lead overall, followed by Majka.

The 23-year-old Slovenian is now only three seconds ahead of Majka before the final stage on Sunday. Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious), who finished 11th today, is third, 1.56 minutes behind Pogačar.

As expected, today's race was decided in the final, 8.2-kilometre ascent to Velika Planina, where the Slovenian-Polish pair dominated. The two were separated from other competitors five kilometres before the finish line.

Thus, Pogačar and Majka were in an excellent position for the third time at the Tour, as Majka won the first stage (Pogačar was third) and Pogačar the third (followed by Majka).

Approaching the finish line together, far ahead of everybody else, the two first congratulated each other and then Majka crossed the finish line first.

Spain's Fernando Barcelo (Caja Rural Seguros), was third, arriving 22 seconds behind the winner. Italy's Vicenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa Cycling Team) was fifth, 25 seconds behind the winner.

On Sunday, the cyclists are in for the final, 155.7-kilometre stage from Vrhnika to Novo Mesto.

17 Jun 2022, 16:15 PM

STA, 17 June 2022 - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the third stage of the Tour of Slovenia on Friday in what was a fierce attack before the finishing line. The world No.1 cyclist now leads in the race's overall standings. His teammate, Poland's Rafal Majka, was second and Italy's Nicola Conci (Alpecin Fenix) finished third.

The win was a repeat of last year's feat when Pogačar won stage two of the Slovenian race by showcasing all the tricks of the trade. Both last year and this year he attacked some 20 kilometres before the finishing line during a steep ascent, the only difference being that today he was chased by Majka.

The Polish rider won stage one on Wednesday and was leading in the overall standings until Pogačar's latest stage win. Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain-Victorious) currently ranks third overall.

In what was another highlight of today's stage, Slovenia's Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange - Jayco) finished fourth.

"I gave it my all," Pogačar told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija after the win.

Pogačar's and Majka's cycling team, UAE Team Emirates, said today that two of their riders had tested positive for coronavirus, including Denmark's Mikkel Bjerg, who had been competing in the Slovenian race and has since pulled out of it. His room-mate, Norway's Vegard Stake Laengen, has also waved goodbye to the competition under a precautionary measure taken by UAE Team Emirates.

Other riders and staff in the team, including Pogačar, have tested negative for now.

On Saturday, the 152 km queens stage will take the riders from Laško in the east to Velika Planina in the north.

The Tour of Slovenia is the country's biggest road cycling race that has become a final competitive test before the Tour de France for many riders in recent years. Pogačar will be defending his two-time title at the 2022 Tour de France.

16 Jun 2022, 12:24 PM

STA, 15 June 2022 - Polish rider Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) won the first stage of the Tour of Slovenia race on Wednesday. Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) finished in second place and Slovenia's cycling star and current No. 1 cyclist in the world, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), was third.

Majka led the way with the two Slovenians in the second half of the 164.7 km hilly stage from Nova Gorica to Postojna in the west of the country.

After chasing breakaway riders during the flat terrain segment of the stage, it was Pogačar, the favourite of the race, who took his chance on the first climb.

Being rested after two months without competitive racing, he made a successful attack, and Majka and Novak followed suit.

In the final sprint, Majka broke away from the two Slovenian riders and crossed the finish line first. This was his first stage win after last year's Vuelta a Espana.

"The stage was difficult because it was very hot. It was a nice test before the Tour de France, we have to get used to this heat... Tadej had good legs. It's nice to ride here, we had a good rhythm, and I'm also happy that Tadej allowed me to win because he's definitely faster than me. Tadej will definitely win some stages in the next few days and definitely the overall as well," Majka, who won the 2017 Tour of Slovenia, told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

On Thursday, cyclists will ride the 174.2 km stage from Ptuj (NE) to Rogaška Slatina (E). This will be the only of the race's five stages that presents an actual chance for sprinters to bag a win.

The Tour of Slovenia is the country's biggest road cycling race. In recent years, many riders have started to see it as a final competitive test before the Tour de France. The latter, starting in Denmark on 1 July, will see Pogačar defend his two-time title.

13 Jun 2022, 06:36 AM

STA, 12 June 2022 - Slovenian rider Primož Roglič won the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine road cycling race after letting Jumbo Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark take the final mountain stage between Saint-Alban-Leysse and Plateau de Salaison.

The 32-year-old three-time winner of La Vuelta is the second Slovenian to win this race leading up to the Tour de France after Janez Brajkovič attained the feat 12 years ago.

It is Roglič's 64th career victory and the fourth this season. He is only the fourth rider in history to win the biggest week-long races in France, the Paris-Nice and the Dauphine, the same year after French Jacques Anquetil (1963, 1965), Belgian Eddy Merckx (1971) and Briton Bradley Wiggins (2012).

Coming in second today, Roglič finished the race with an overall lead of 40 seconds ahead of Vingegaard. The pair reached the top of the Plateau de Solaison hand-in-hand but the Dane was the first to cross the finish line. Australian Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen) finished the stage and the race third.

"Finally I got to win a few races in France, the feeling is really great," Roglič said in his first comment.

He praised the whole Jumbo Visma team for their excellent joint effort as they controlled the stage the whole way from the start to finish.

"Jonas was very strong on the last climb, it was really a crazy, amazing finish for the team," he added after his last test ahead of the start of the Tour of France in Copenhagen on 1 July.

12 Jun 2022, 15:13 PM

STA, 12 June 2022 - Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland won the 41st Franja Marathon on Sunday to defend last year's victory in what is Slovenia's largest amateur cycling event.

The 39-year-old former Tour de France polka-dot jersey winner finished the 156-kilometre race in 3 hours, 37 minutes and 28 seconds, beating an Italian breakaway group.

Luca Chiesi came in second and Ettore Carlini third, followed by two more Italians, Francesco Bongiorno in fourth and Christian Dallago in fifth. The latter built a lag of 52 seconds.

The best Slovenian was Tadej Sedar in 9th.

Slovenia's Laura Šimenc was best among women, finishing the race in 3:50:17 for her third Franja victory after 2017 and 2020. Her compatriot Nina Pugelj came in second and Italian Elena Maria Palmisano placed third.

The marathon takes riders from Ljubljana on a round trip to Cerkno in the west of the country and back. It is named after a hospital operated by the Partisan resistance movement during World War II near Cerkno.

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