11 Sep 2020, 20:41 PM

STA, 11 September 2020 - Slovenian riders Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar took the top two positions in the overall standings at the Tour de France on Friday after finishing the 13th stage of the race well ahead of the top contenders for the overall win.

Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who has held the yellow jersey since stage nine, and Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who was seventh heading into today's stage, finished six minutes behind the stage winner Daniel Martinez (EF Pro Cycling).

But more importantly, they left many top riders far behind, allowing Roglič to more than double his overall lead to 44 seconds and Pogačar to jump to second place in what was a tricky stage with a total elevation gain of 4400 metres.

This is the first time ever that two Slovenian competitors top the overall rankings at the Tour. The pair, sometimes referred to as Rog & Pog, already made Slovenian cycling history in previous stages, finishing two of them as the first and second-placed.

11 Sep 2020, 17:41 PM

STA, 11 September 2020 - Ljubljana Marathon received the green light on Friday from the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) to host on 25 October what is known as the largest running event in the country. Although significantly downsized due to coronavirus, the marathon will be held, director Gojko Zalokar confirmed for the STA.

As customary, the tracks will be 10, 21 and 42 kilometres long, Zalokar said.

The organisers started accepting applications for the event in early March, only days before the epidemic was declared in the country. Ever since, talks have been under way on how and whether to carry out the marathon.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, this year only up to 500 participants will be able to take part, including 50 representatives of the organisers. So far, the annual event usually attracted almost 14,000 runners.

This year's marathon will be 25th, but the anniversary will be marked next year, Zalokar said.

Applications for this year's event will be accepted as of 1 October. Only the first 450 runners to apply will be able to take part.

The organisers invite all those who will not be able to apply to take part in the virtual marathon.

Those who had registered in the first round have the option of transferring the registration fee to 2021 or get a refund.

06 Sep 2020, 18:05 PM

STA, 6 September - Slovenian riders made history at the Tour de France yet again as Tadej Pogačar won the 9th stage and Primož Roglič came in second to take the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Swiss rider Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) made an escape 50 kilometres into the 153-kilometre mountainous stage between Pau and Laruns, only to get caught up by Roglič (Jumbo Visma), Pogačar (UAE), Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) 1.7 kilometre ahead of the finish line.

The devilish tempo was dictated by Roglič, a pre-race favourite for the overall victory, who secured the virtual yellow jersey on the climb to the Marie Blanque pass, while Hirschi was the first to break into sprint.

Although the Swiss was in the best position to win the stage, Pogačar blasted past him, followed by Roglič, who squeezed ahead by a whisker just before the finish line, so Hirschi had to settle for the third.

The finish in Laruns was where Roglič won his second Tour de France stage win two years ago for the 4th spot overall. This time he has become the first Slovenian ever to claim the leader's jersey of the most prestigious cycling race in the world.

"The yellow jersey is great. It's our goal and I hope to have it on in Paris. This was definitely a good stage for us," Roglič, 30, commented for RTV Slovenija, after taking the leader's jersey off Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

Overall, Roglič is now 21 seconds ahead of Columbian Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and 28 seconds ahead of France's Guillaume Martin (Cofidis). Pogačar advanced to 7th overall with a lag of 44 seconds behind his compatriot.

Roglič lauded his young rival. "I'd like congratulate Tadej first, today we changed places from the fourth stage. He is really strong," he said, referring to the first Slovenian double win at this year's Tour. This is their third such feat including the Tour of Spain last year.

"It'd be great if everything was so easy. What can I say, Slovenians have obviously become a cycling powerhouse, just like the Colombians," he said.

"I only wanted to gain as much time as possible overall, but I saw we didn't gain much compared to competition. That's why I tried to get the bonus seconds in the last few metres. I don't really know how I did it, I just sprinted as fast as I could," Pogačar commented on his feat.

01 Sep 2020, 21:08 PM

STA, 1 September 2020 - Slovenia's cycling star Primož Roglič won the fourth stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, while Tadej Pogačar in second place helped secure a historic double win for Slovenia.

Roglič, the Vuelta a Espana champion who is also among the prime candidates for final overall victory at the Tour, won the uphill sprint in Orcieres-Merlette in the Alps after 160.5 kilometres of racing that began in Sisteron.

While this is the third individual stage victory at the Tour for Roglič, who also clinched wins in 2017 and 2018, the 30-year-old did not yet secure the yellow jersey of the overall leader.

The Jumbo-Visma captain advanced to third place, three seconds behind Britain's Adam Yates and seven seconds behind French rider Julian Alaphilippe.

"It was quite a fast day actually, quite hard, but the guys did a very good job again, I was in a good position all along. At the end I was able to deliver a nice sprint, so I'm very happy," Roglič said after the race.

He added he did not really care that the yellow jersey was not his yet. What is important is that "we stayed safe and at the end even won".

As for his continuing recovery after a crash two weeks ago, he said "I'm coming back ... I feel a little better every day, it's nice to ride a bike again".

Meanwhile, Pogačar, a 21-year-old member of UAE Team Emirates, consolidated his fourth position overall and donned the white jersey of the best young rider.

According to public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, Pogačar became the youngest holder of the white jersey in the last 32 years.

26 Aug 2020, 13:36 PM

STA, 25 August 2020 - Slovenian mountain runner Luka Kovačič has accomplished a new feat by climbing the five highest mountains in Slovenia in less than 14 hours, by his own account.

The three-time winner of the race up the Planica ski flying hill managed to climb Visoki Rokav (2,646m), Škrlatica (2,740m), Triglav (2,864m), Jalovec (2,645m) and Mangart (2,679m) in north-western Slovenia.

Kovačič initially thought he would need a whole 24 hours for the feat, so he even surprised himself by climbing the five mountains in one go in 13 hours and 56 minutes.

A part of the run on Škrlatica took place on a very rocky terrain, which required alpine climbing abilities.

"I have been dreaming for a long time about connecting these mountains in one day. I wondered if it is possible in 24 hours and now I managed it in less than 14 hours," he said.

Kovačič climbed 6,600 metres overall, and covered 55 kilometres, of which 43 kilometres was mountain paths and rocks, seven kilometres was macadam and five kilometres paved road.

This was the day when I wasn't competing, I was just transforming my dreams into reality. It was a long day, but I...

Posted by Luka Kovačič on Tuesday, 25 August 2020

The first three hours he ran in complete darkness, while during individual stages he was accompanied by colleague who provided him with morale. His girlfriend Urška Ahac also provided support during one stage.

"Perhaps the toughest part was the climb to Jalovec, in the middle of the day, when it became really hot and there was no wind at all. But I beat the crisis and everything went better than expected thereafter.

"I can tell with full honesty that I enjoyed the entire 14 hours," added the extreme athlete who trains more than 900 hours a year.

"A project such as this requires a complete person, who can stay focused for the entire 14 hours despite the physical intensity. This is not possible without an exceptional physical fitness," he concluded.

09 Aug 2020, 21:22 PM

STA, 9 August 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič of the Dutch team Team Jumbo-Visma won the three-stage Tour de l'Ain race in France on Sunday in what is seen as a dress rehearsal for Tour de France.

What is usually a smaller race in France this year attracted the strongest teams because of the coronavirus pandemic and the related changes to the schedule of the races. After 34 kilometres, the route turned to what will be the route of the 107th Tour de France on 13 September, at the end of the second week of the three-week prestigious competition.

Roglič finished seconded in the first stage of Tour de l'Ain on Friday, but then proved his supremacy on Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, the 139-kilometre, mostly plain route was not cut out for Roglič, and he was forced to admit defeat to Italy's Andreo Bagioli, while Swiss Stefan Bissegger was third.

But Saturday's more diverse 140.5-kilometre race between Lagnieu and Lelex Monts-Jura allowed him to beat Columbian Egana Bernal(Ineos), while Italian Valerio Conti was third.

In today's final stage, the 144.5-kilometre race between Saint-Vulbas and the Grand Colombier, Roglič overtook Bernal and his fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic) while climbing the Grand Colombier. Roglič was four seconds faster than Bernal, and six seconds faster than Quintana.

The cyclists remained in that order overall as well. Overall, Roglič beat Bernal and Quintana by 18 and 28 seconds, respectively.

"Today was hard too. The Ineos team made sure the challenge was really hard with a strong rhythm uphill. But our team did an excellent job again, so I could finish successfully," Roglič said, adding his mind was already on Tour de France.

"My main ambition at the Tour will be to place as high as possible there, to grow together with my team, and to do our job the best we can. That's the main goal," Roglič said.

27 Jul 2020, 12:09 PM

STA, 27 July 2020 - Slovenian ultra cyclist Marko Baloh has set a new 1,000-km time trial world record with 28 hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds, bicycle maker Spiegel Bikes reported on its Instagram on Monday. Baloh failed to smash the 24-hour record though.

The 53-year-old started chasing a number of world records in Dobrovnik in north-east Slovenia on Saturday.

He bagged the major one, the 1,000-km record, whereas Austrian Christoph Strasser remains the person who has ridden the longest distance on a road bike in 24 hours (896.2 km); Baloh managed 865.3 km in a day.

Apart from the 1,000-km record, the Slovenian endurance cyclist also beat the 100-km, 200-km and 300-km fastest times.

Since the 2020 cycling season saw no races until late June due to coronavirus, Baloh decided to tackle smashing world records after ten years of putting that on hold for racing.

In 2008, Baloh had already set a world record at an outdoor velodrome and he topped that feat by becoming a record-holder at an indoor cycling track in 2010. That year he also became the first person to have ridden more than 900 km in 24 hours (903.75 km).

03 Jul 2020, 14:46 PM

STA, 3 July - Slovenian NBA star Luka Dončić recently held his first news conference after the Covid-19 pandemic. He said in a videoconference that he was in good shape and could not wait to return to the court. He highlighted the role US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda C. Blanchard played in helping him return to his homeland during the outbreak.

The 21-year-old returned to Dallas, Texas almost two weeks ago to start preparing for a tentative comeback of the 2019-2020 NBA season after spending lockdown in Slovenia. The NBA is expected to resume on 30 July.

"The league is doing all it can to make sure that all the participants would not feel any consequences. Every two days we are tested and everyone is taking care of our health," Dončić said.

He has never considered sitting out the season; he missed basketball a lot and just wants to play, he told the reporters, adding that he had full trust in the NBA system but was of course concerned about the situation as much as the next person.

Recently there was a misunderstanding regarding his shape which raised some dust in the US sports world - Dončić's personal trainer was mistranslated as saying the NBA star had gained some weight during his two months in Slovenia.

Dončić dismissed any such rumours, highlighting he was in good shape and would only get better when the season restarted.

The 2018-2019 NBA Rookie of the Year told the press that he maintained his shape during lockdown by playing tennis and football. He was glad he could spend some time with his friends and family in Slovenia and again thanked the US ambassador for helping him make that happen as well as for assisting him in returning back to the US.

The Dallas Mavericks small forward will be soon experiencing another lockdown, an NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida where NBA players are to be isolated from the rest of the world. The Dallas Mavericks are eyeing the playoffs, with Dončić saying that their chemistry would only grow.

The NBA star used the time in Slovenia to heal the minor injuries he was struggling with prior to the season suspension. "I think the break helped. I think a lot of people had some small injuries, they weren't 100%."

"Obviously the [hardest] thing for me was not being able to play basketball," he replied about being asked about the biggest quarantine challenges.

Before the corona suspension, Dončić had an average of 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.

05 Jun 2020, 13:20 PM

STA, 5 June 2020 - The national football championship will resume on Friday after being on hold for almost three months due to the coronavirus outbreak, albeit without spectators. All first league players have tested negative for Covid-19 and are ready to go, but it is expected that they will need a game or two to return to top form.

Entering the pitch first today will be players of Aluminij and Mura, and this match will be followed by a Celje-Rudar encounter in the evening.

The national championship was halted in mid-March after 25 out of the 36 scheduled matches played. Olimpija Ljubljana leads the standings with 50 points, ahead of Celje and Aluminij (45 each). The defending champions Maribor are fourth at 43 points.

Olimpija's Ante Vukušić, who is tied at the top of the scorer standings this season, has told the STA that the team is getting back in shape and that it would need a game or two to get to the top of its game.

The Croatian believes that Celje is the top contender for the title. "They have played well, and the coach has constructed the team very well. They are difficult to play," he said, adding that the other competitors were close as well.

"Maribor has gotten an injection of fresh blood with the new coach and director of football and will be very motivated. But all is up to us and I think there will be no major problems," Vukušić believes.

"We have shown the most so far. We have the best starting line-up in the country. I don't underestimate anyone but we know that we have the quality to win it all," he added.

The schedule is complete and matches in the first league are expected to conclude on 22 July, followed by the play-off matches for the survival in the elite division and/or advancement from the second division.

The national cup competition will resume next week. The cup semi-finals will be played on 9 and 10 June, and the final on 24 June, all of them on the neutral pitch of the National Football Centre in Brdo pri Kranju, also without spectators.

The second league for men and the first league for women had been ended in mid-May.

To be promoted from the second league is Koper, the club which topped the standings before the epidemic. The second-placed Gorica will enter play-offs with the club which finishes ninth in the premier league.

The women's premier league ended without the official champion declared. The decision on which club will represent Slovenia in European competitions in the next season will be based on past results.

18 May 2020, 14:53 PM

STA, 18 May 2020 - Marko Elsner, one of the greatest Slovenian football players of all time, has died at the age of 60 after battling a severe illness for several years. One of his finest moments was winning an Olympic bronze medal with the Yugoslav team in 1984.

Born in Ljubljana in 1960, Elsner first played for the youth team of the Austrian club Wacker Innsbruck before returning to the home town to play with Slovan and then joining Olimpija Ljubljana in 1977.

In 1983, he was signed on by the Yugoslav powerhouse Red Star Belgrade and played with them four seasons. In this period he became a national team player, and was part of the Yugoslav team at the 1984 Olympics, winning the bronze medal.

The feisty defender went international in 1987, when he was acquired by Nice, playing a total of 105 games for the French club and scoring six goals. He returned to Austria in 1990 and finished his career in France in 1993.

Elsner played for the Yugoslav national team in 1984-1988, earning 14 caps, and also for the Slovenian team after the nation gained independence, making two caps - against Cyprus in November 1992 and against Estonia in April 1993.

He came from a football family, with his late father Branko Elsner (1929-2012) being one of the best Slovenian football coaches and officials.

His brother Brane was a long-serving member of the Slovenian Football Association, and his elder son Luka was the first Slovenian to be appointed the head coach of a club in the French top football league (Amiens).

14 May 2020, 10:47 AM

STA, 13 May 2020 - The government decided on Wednesday to allow a majority of sports activities to resume as of 23 May, including practices and recreation in indoor facilities, and trainings and competitions in team sports.

The decree does not apply to fitness and wellness centres and swimming pools, with the exception for the latter applying to registered athletes, government spokesman Jelko Kacin told the STA, adding that outdoor water sports, for example rowing, would also be allowed.

Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted earlier in the day that competitions in team sports would be allowed to resume on 23 May.

Commenting on the decision, Slovenian Football Association (NZS) president Radenko Mijatović said this was a "great relief for football and sport in general". He added that the NZS was planning to organise the first matches in June.

"We have already had talks with clubs, and their wish was that at least four weeks of practice are held before the first official matches. This means that we plan to organise them in the first or second week of June," he told the STA.

"This decision means a lot for football in Slovenia from the competition aspect, as we the [national] champion and participants in European competitions will be decided on the pitch," Mijatović added.

On Monday, the NZS decided to continue with the premier league and the national cup for men, depending on the situation related to the epidemic, while ending the second league for men and the first league for women.

Registered athletes in individual sports are already allowed to train in outdoor facilities, with the exception of facilities belonging to educational institutions, and to participate in competitions up to the national level.

As of 23 May, team competitions and practices in facilities belonging to educational institutions will also be allowed, as well as extracurricular sport education of children and youth.

All activities must be carried out in adherence to public health rules issued and without spectators.

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