Sport

21 Oct 2020, 11:56 AM

STA, 20 October 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) won the first stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday to establish himself as one of the favourites in the race around Spain as he is defending his overall winner title in the same race from last year.

In the 173-kilometre stage from Irun to Eibar, the 30-year-old defeated the closest followers Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Dan Martin of Ireland to put on the overall leader's red jersey already after the first day.

"It is great to win. I'm very happy. The team has again showed that it is very strong. It has done an excellent job during the entire stage, and I returned the favour with the win. It is a nice way to start the Vuelta," Roglič said.

"It has been a strange season, so I will enjoy the overall leader's jersey from tomorrow on, and the fact that we are able to race here," the Slovenian added after taking over the red jersey for the 12th time in his career.

Slovenia is celebrating a double win today as Jan Tratnik won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia between Udine and San Daniele del Friuli to become only the fifth Slovenian ever to win a stage at the prestigious road race around Italy.

This made Slovenia the third country ever with stage wins at the Grand Tour races on the same day. The Giro and the Vuelta used to overlap, and the last time a nation managed the feat before today was in 1978 (Belgium).

This is meanwhile the third stage win ever for Roglič at the Vuelta a Espana, the race he won last year, when he also finished 3rd overall at Giro d'Italia.

Roglič's best achievement this year by far is the 2nd overall place at the Tour de France, the race won by his younger compatriot Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates.

16 Oct 2020, 13:10 PM

STA, 16 October 2020 - Ljubljana Marathon, due next weekend, was cancelled on Friday, as new coronavirus restrictions took effect in parts of Slovenia with the highest incidence of new cases, including Ljubljana.

"Unfortunately, the second wave and the high rise in cases is happening just in time for the Ljubljana Marathon and has prevented us from carrying out the event safely," Ljubljana Marathon director Gojko Zalokar said in a press release.

What is usually the largest running event in the country had been significantly downsized and had received the go-ahead from the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) in early September.

No more than 450 participants and 50 organisers would have taken part in each of the three races: 10k, 21k and the marathon. This would have been significantly fewer than the usual 14,000 runners, running not just in the three categories but a number of other events for children and students as well.

As coronavirus cases in Slovenia continue to rise, new restrictions took effect today, among them a ban on events, while in red regions, which includes Ljubljana, there are also restrictions in place for recreational sports.

The runners who registered and paid their admission fee will get reimbursed by the end of the month, either through direct transactions or via PayPal, depending on how they carried out the payment.

However, the cancellation does not mean that runners cannot run the Ljubljana Marathon this year. Like many running events, the organisers decided to hold a virtual race next week, extending registration until 19 October.

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia

05 Oct 2020, 14:10 PM

STA, 5 October 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Stanko Verstovšek has set a new record in the 24-hour time trial by covering a total of 914.02 kilometres in that span on a route in the north-eastern region of Prekmurje. He has beaten the previous record-holder, Christoph Strasser of Austria, by more than 15 kilometres.

During the time trial on the triangle between Dobrovnik, Genterovci and Turnišče, the Slovenian also improved world records in 100, 200, 300 and 500 kilometres and miles to obtain nine records recognised by the World Ultra Cycling Association.

"I started flirting with the record last year," Vertovšek has told the STA, noting that the idea had been born when he had won the European championship for ultra cyclists, where he had broken off from his competitors after 12 hours of cycling.

"The challenge was great, because Strasser was the first to break the records of the late Jure Robič," the native of Zidani Most (E) said about the legendary Slovenian cyclists and his predecessor.

Posted by Aleš Suhadolnik on Monday, 5 October 2020

Verstovšek, who covered 902 kilometres in 24 hours the European championship, said that another factor was the coronavirus crisis sweeping out all major international competitions, which gave him time to concentrate on breaking the record.

He had cycled more than 22,000 kilometres in preparation for the feat, or 140 kilometres a day, with him working in Koper allowing him to cover great distances every day during the period when municipal borders were locked down.

The gruelling challenge on the route selected in consultation with another ultra cyclist Marko Baloh was far from easy. "After ten hours or so I had a serious crisis, but the interim data showed that I was close," he said.

05 Oct 2020, 08:33 AM

STA, 4 October 2020 - Slovenia's cycling star Primož Roglič added on Sunday the Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege to his portfolio of prestigious achievements. Two more Slovenian cyclists finished the race in the top 4.

Roglič, who recently had to concede to compatriot Tadej Pogačar at the Tour de France, won a hard-fought sprint finish after a 257km run through the Ardennes, inching out World Champion Julian Alaphilippe of France who had already raised his arms in celebration.

Alaphilippe was later relegated to fifth place due to a penalty, which put Pogačar on the podium behind Roglič and Swiss rider Marc Hirschi. What is more, a third Slovenian, Matej Mohorič, finished fourth.

24 Sep 2020, 15:19 PM

Only one week following a double Slovenian victory in the Tour de France, the cycling elite is moving to Imola, Italy for the UCI 2020 Road World Championship. Over the four days of competition, which begins on Thursday, September 24 with the Women Elite Time Trial and concludes on Sunday, with Men Elite Road Race, we'll see the world's best cyclists, including Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, compete against each other once again.

The Slovenian team, consisting of five female and eight male cyclists, will have one racer from both groups in the Time Trials of the first two days, and thus Eugenia Bujak will compete on Thursday and Jan Tratnik will compete in the male Time Trial on Friday.

To many who wonder why Tadej Pogačar, who just won last week's Tour de France in a spectacular Time Trial race, isn't going to preform in the WC Time Trial as well, the Slovenian National Team's coach Andrej Hauptman explained for Siol.si that ahead of the Tour it has been agreed with Primož and Tadej they would not compete in World Championship's Time Trial since those who went through the gruelling competition in the Tour would have no chance of winning this as well.  

In Saturday's Women Elite Road Race we'll be cheering Urška Pintar, Eugenia Bajuk, Urška Žigart, Urška Bravec in Špela Kern.

In Sunday's Men Elite Road Race Slovenian team will consist of Primož Roglič, Tadej Pogačar, Jan Polanc, Luka Mezgec, Jan Tratnik, Jani Brajkovič, Domen Novak and Luka Pibernik.

 

 

21 Sep 2020, 19:47 PM

STA, 21 September 2020 - Slovenia is celebrating Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič for their first and second overall place at the Tour de France in what is a historic feat for the nation that had already been crazed by past successes. The cycling euphoria is now reaching a new peak.

Pogačar crossed the finish line of the world's most prestigious road cycling race in Paris on Sunday after having already secured the win a day earlier with a superb performance in the penultimate, mountain stage.

It was a surprise twist at the only time trial of the race, as the 21-year-old had been trailing his older compatriot Primož Roglič, who had been an undisputed favourite throughout the race, by almost a minute.

Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came aggressively right out of the gate to overtake the yellow jersey from the visibly exhausted Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), beating him by almost two minutes in what expert say was one of the most sensational performances in cycling history.

He became the second youngest winner of the Tour de France, and is the first 21-year-old to win the greatest of the three-week Grand Tour races as a newcomer after France's Laurent Fignon in 1983.

He is also the first to wear the yellow jersey (general classification leader), the polka dot jersey (best in the mountainous classification) and the white jersey as the best young rider.

After clinching the win, Pogačar said that "I think I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to say," and after arriving in the French capital he told reporters that "this is incredible, standing here in Paris on the top step of the podium."

"I never thought I would be here. It's been an amazing three-week adventure. I have to thank everyone who's been involved in the preparation for the race, everyone in my team and my family."

Despite his talent, Pogačar's victory is in a way a surprise given that his first three-week race was only last year's Vuelta, where he placed third, and the fact that his older compatriot Roglič was a clear-cut favourite among the Slovenians.

Roglič (29) was visibly disappointed but said the failure to win the Tour - his ultimate goal that seemed so close - could prove motivation for future. The ski jumper-cum-rider won Spain's Vuelta and placed third at Giro d'Italia last year.

"I'm super proud. I'm proud of what I managed to do and us as a team which really put on super shows throughout the three weeks. I wouldn't change a single thing, there are no regrets, the best rider has won, so sincere congratulations to Tadej," he said.

Many Slovenian fans came to Paris to cheer their winning champions, including President Borut Pahor, while locals in Pogačar and Roglič's home towns celebrated with open-air parties.

Congratulations and praise for both are still pouring in, with many experts agreeing that Pogačar's performance in the penultimate stage was one of the ages, which transcends any past performance of an up-and coming rider.

Slovenia's double victory was preceded by an epic battle between the two Slovenians, and the likes of the cycling legends Sean Kelly and Eddy Merckx labelled the eventual winner as one of the greatest riders of the current millennium.

Slovenian Andrej Hauptman, one of the directors of UAE Team Emirates, said Pogačar was a great gem of Slovenian cycling, and added that neither him nor Roglič had boundaries they were not able to cross.

The surprise win has also been making headlines internationally, with The Guardian saying "it was a strange Tour but the winner looks like he is here to stay at the head of exciting young breed of cyclists."

La Gazzetta dello Sport said that Pogačar had a brave heart, as he conquered the wind as his greatest enemy, and the French L'Equipe said that the Slovenian wonder had won what was his first Tour De France.

Sports media appear unanimous in the assessment that Pogačar has already become the main favourite in all future three-week races he will participate in, and that he could remain on the cycling throne for more than a decade.

The cycling papers speculate that the 2020s may become the battleground between Pogačar, Colombia's Egan Bernal and another cycling wunderkind, Remco Evenepoel of Belgium.

20 Sep 2020, 20:39 PM

STA, 20 September 2020 - Slovenia's rider Tadej Pogačar has crossed the finish line of the Tour de France in Paris to round up his superb performance at the world's most prestigious race, a historic feat for Slovenian sport. Coming in second was his older compatriot Primož Roglič, throughout the race an undisputed favourite, who lost to Pogačar at the eleventh hour.

21-year-old Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) was formally crowned the Tour de France winner on Sunday after putting on a dramatic turnaround in Saturday's penultimate stage, breaking several records.

He is the first 21-year-old to win the greatest of all three-week races as a Tour newcomer after France's Laurent Fignon in 1983. He is also the first to wear the yellow jersey (general classification leader), the polka dot one (best in the mountainous classification) and the white one as the best young rider.

"This is incredible, standing here in Paris on the top step of the podium," said Pogačar, draped in the Slovenian flag as his parents watched on.

"I never thought I would be here. It's been an amazing three-week adventure. I have to thank everyone who's been involved in the preparation for the race, everyone in my team and my family."

Despite his talent, Pogačar's victory is in a way a surprise given that his first three-week race was only last year's Vuelta, where he placed third.

Pogačar joined his first and only club before becoming a professional athlete - KD Rog Ljubljana when he was nine.

He first came to the attention of the Slovenian public at the Tour of Slovenia in 2017, which he finished fifth and got the white jersey as the best young rider.

In 2018, he won Tour de l' Avenir in what was a great success.

It was his outstanding results that made him soon be spotted by the UAE's professional team and he was signed on in July 2018, fully joining it on 1 January 2019.

The Tour de France victory will bring him and his team more than EUR 600,000.

Many Slovenian fans came to Paris to cheer their winning champions, while locals in Pogačar and Roglič's home towns are celebrating with open-air parties.

Congratulations for both are pouring in, although Roglič's fans in the town of Kisovec are slightly disappointed, yet they still consider him a winner.

Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) held the Tour's yellow jersey since the end of stage nine in Laruns, and had an around one-minute lead on Pogačar before yesterday's stage, but had to take it off for the Paris grand finale as Pogačar did 59 second better in Saturday's time trial.

However the failure to win the Tour - his ultimate goal that seemed so close - could prove motivation for future. After all, the ski jumper-cum-rider won Spain's Vuelta and placed third at Giro d'Italia last year.

"I super proud. I proud of what I managed to do and us as a team which really put on super shows throughout the three weeks," Roglič, who came to the podium with his son Lev, said.

"I wouldn't change a single thing, there are no regrets, the best one has won, so sincere congratulations to Tadej. And we go on," he told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

Below is a list of Slovenian riders' best results at three-week races:

1st place - Tadej Pogačar, Tour de France 2020
1st place - Primož Roglič, Vuelta a Espana 2019
2nd place - Primož Roglič, Tour de France 2020
3rd place - Primož Roglič, Giro d'Italia 2019
3rd place - Tadej Pogačar, Vuelta a Espana 2019
4th place - Primož Roglič, Tour de France 2019
9th place - Tadej Valjavec, Tour de France 2008
9th place - Tadej Valjavec, Giro d'Italia 2004
9th place - Janez Brajkovič, Tour de France 2012
11th place - Jan Polanc, Giro d'Italia 2017
13th place - Tadej Valjavec, Giro d'Italia 2008
14th place - Jan Polanc, Giro d'Italia 2019
14th place - Janez Brajkovič, Giro d'Italia 2009
15th place - Tadej Valjavec, Giro d'Italia 2005
16th place - Tadej Valjavec, Tour de France 2006
18th place - Tadej Valjavec, Vuelta a Espana 2002
19th place - Tadej Valjavec, Tour de France 2007

20 Sep 2020, 17:08 PM

STA, 20 September 2020 - A new cycling champion is to be crowned as Slovenian Tadej Pogačar is set to win the Tour de France in Paris later today. While Primož Roglič led for much of the world's most prestigious race as a strong favourite, his younger compatriot put on a dramatic turn in Saturday's stage, and the pair secured a historic double victory.

Despite placing second overall, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) remains a key name of this year's Tour, so the U-turn in the penultimate stage could not spoil Slovenia's celebrations.

Yet a new star is being born as Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) took the yellow jersey from Roglič after he had held it for a dozen days, making Slovenian and Tour de France history.

"Nailing first and second in the biggest bike race in the world is a huge step for one of the smallest cycle racing nations," is how The Guardian put it today.

The time trial brought the 21-year-old from the town of Komenda, some 20 km north of Ljubljana, a 59-second lead on Roglič, and somewhat unexpectedly, even for Pogačar himself, the overall victory.

"Incredible. Nobody expected what happened on Saturday. Nobody imagined he could take a minute away from Roglič and add another one," Miha Koncilija, Pogačar's first-ever coach, told the STA today.

Twitter went crazy last evening and Pogačar is being praised around the globe, with some media labelling his performance a historic turnaround and the overall victory one of the biggest achievements in the Tour's 117-year history.

Although his talent had not passed unnoticed, only few had dared to think Pogačar would rise to the stars so quickly.

Being a 2020 Tour de France debutant, his dream had been not to win the race, but to race in it in the first place.

Almost a one minute-lead before yesterday's 36-kilometre time trial should have sufficed for Roglič to keep the yellow jersey.

However, the 30-year old rider, who claimed his first Grand Tour victory in 2019's Vuelta a Espana, had a bad day - his performance was not the best and his compatriot rival was doing brilliantly.

The surprising development took many in Slovenia by surprise and many experience a feeling of injustice, given that Roglič pedalled exceptionally for three weeks, but eventually experienced, despite the second place, a painful defeat.

"We all saw how hard it was for Primož. The entire team had worked hard for his success, they had everything under control, and then one bad day spoils it all. It's hard. Of course we're thrilled, but still the whole thing is a bit bittersweet," said Koncilija.

"Roglič was the best rider throughout the race, he had an excellent team. So I respect him, he is really a good friend and I too feel his defeat. But this is part of racing, we all try to win in the end," is how Pogačar summed up the dramatic turnaround in the last serious stage before today's largely exhibition one.

A day before he turns 22, Pogačar is set to become the second youngest Tour de France winner and the youngest this century.

Despite comparisons with some of the cycling greats such as Belgium's Eddy Merckx, he remains modest, hardly thinking about them.

Asked by journalists to tell them something about himself after yesterday's victory, he said: "I'm a young guy from Komenda. I have two sisters and a brother. I don't know what else to say - I enjoy life. Small things are important to me. This stage is definitely too big for me."

He described his felling about the victory similarly: "This morning I was happy to be in second place. Then I had a really good day and it transpired that I won. I'm very happy."

He thanked his UAE Emirates team for giving him the opportunity to race at the Tour and his parents for passing on their good genes which enable him to regenerate fast.

His Tour victory will go down in history as the biggest achievement in Slovenian cycling, while the double victory inspires even more pride among Slovenian fans.

Many have arrived in Paris for the finale, including almost 400 on two charter flights, as well as President Borut Pahor and Foreign Minister Anže Logar.

Commenting on the Tour even before Pogačar overtook Roglič, Slovenian Cycling Association vice-president Martin Hvastija said: "My view of the Tour? Things seem pretty ... surreal. I feel like I'm in a parallel world."

19 Sep 2020, 18:40 PM

STA, 19 September 2020 - Slovenians Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič reigned supreme at Saturday's decisive stage of the 107th Tour de France with Pogačar becoming the big winner after a surprise twist at the only time trial of the race. After making up for Roglič's 57-second lead, the 21-year-old Pogačar became the second youngest winner of the Tour.

Bagging his third stage victory at the Tour, Pogačar took the yellow jersey, beating Roglič by almost two minutes.

Roglič, visibly exhausted, finished fifth after the 36.2km course from Lure to La Planche des belles filles, to take the second place overall.

"I think I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to say," Pogačar said in his first statement after the race. "I'm really proud of the team. They did a really great job," he added.

18 Sep 2020, 11:44 AM

STA, 17 September 2020 - Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar, the first- and second-placed riders in this year's Tour de France, braved what was the final tough stage in the Alps on Thursday without major difficulties, reaffirming the likelihood of a historic double Slovenian victory in the general classification.

Finishing fourth in today's 168km stage from Meribel to La Roche-sur-Forontoday in a group arriving just under two minutes behind stage winner Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland, Roglič retained the yellow jersey and his 57 seconds lead on Pogačar.

Pogačar, the best young rider at the Tour, was fifth today. He lost his polka dot jersey of the best climber to Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz, who finished second today.

With a relatively easy stage scheduled for Friday and the final stage to Paris on Sunday, the winner of this year's Tour is likely to be determined in Saturday's 36-kilometre time trail with a summit finish at Planche des Belles Filles.

Roglič and Pogačar are both considered strong time trial riders, stronger than Colombia's Miguel Angel Lopez, who is placed third, one minute and 27 seconds behind Roglič.

13 Sep 2020, 18:13 PM

STA, 13 September 2020 - Slovenian riders claimed a third double win at the Tour de France as Tadej Pogačar won the 15th stage of the race and Primož Roglič came in second, keeping the overall leader's yellow jersey. Colombian Egan Bernal, the defending champion, has been left in the dust by Roglič's Jumbo-Visma team.

During the summit finish atop the Grand Colombier, Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) was left far behind and out of the race for the overall win, losing seven minutes and 20 seconds.

Jumbo-Visma set a blistering pace, with Roglič at the helm, however Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was the only one able to outmatch him at today's 174.5-km stage, which featured three steep climbs.

The 21-year-old, wearing the young rider leader's white jersey, now sits only 40 seconds behind Roglič and his yellow jersey.

"So far, Roglič has seemed unstoppable; today broke Bernal, perhaps on another day, it will be me or Roglič. We can't know that for sure," said Pogačar, who is now the youngest rider to have bagged two stage wins in the past 86 years of the race, according to RTV Slovenija data. He also vowed to keep up the pace.

Roglič meanwhile thanked his team and pointed out that the key stages were yet to come. "It would have been good if I had gained four seconds, but I was too short and Tadej was too good today. Nevertheless, I'm satisfied," said Roglič, who will don the yellow jersey for the seventh time on Tuesday.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) ranks third in the overall standings, with a minute and 34 seconds between him and Roglič.

The 30-year-old became the first Slovenian ever to claim the leader's jersey of the most prestigious cycling race in the world a week ago.

This is also the first time ever that two Slovenian competitors top the overall rankings at the Tour.

Monday will be a rest day for the riders and a third series of coronavirus tests will be performed.

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