STA, 6 September 2019 - Slovenia proved to be a cycling tour superpower on Friday as Tadej Pogačar won the 13th stage of the Vuelta ahead of Primož Roglič, who increased the overall lead in the race of Spain.
The 166-kilometre stage between Bilbao and Los Machucos finished with a short (6.8km) but hellishly steep climb, where the Slovenian pair soon broke away to make Slovenia's biggest success ever.
In the all-Slovenian finish, Pogačar, the 20-year-old UAE Emirates rider, won his second stage victory to advance to the 2nd spot overall, putting on the best young rider's white jersey.
Wearing the race leader's red jersey, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) only increased his overall lead ahead of Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to two minutes and 25 seconds.
Pogačar, in his debut appearance at the Vuelta, lags three minutes and a second behind.
Coming in third in the 13th stage, France's Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) finished as many as 27 seconds behind the Slovenian riders today.
"I'm happy about today's achievement but the Vuelta is not over yet," Roglič commented after the race.
Pogačar was in disbelief: "I was told by the radio link that no one was behind us, I felt I'was looking at a good chance. I'm overwhelmed."
STA, 7 September 2019 - The Slovenian national football team beat the favoured Poland at home on Friday evening 2:0 to keep hopes alive for qualifying to the 2020 Euro. The win is a huge boost for the team which will host Israel on Monday, with which it is tied for the third place in the qualifying group.
Hosting the Group G leaders Poland in the sold-out Stožice Stadium, Slovenia needed a win to remain in play for the first two spots in the group that lead to the final tournament, and were given boost by more than 15,000 spectators in Ljubljana.
Slovenia displayed one of their best performances in recent years and were the first to score a goal against Poland in these qualifiers, with Aljaž Struna scoring in the 35th minute after an assist by Josip Iličić for Slovenia's 1:0 advantage.
Iličić was also the assist man in the 65th minute, when he sent the ball deep in Poland's territory to engage Andraž Šporar, who scored for 2:0 to the delight of the Slovenian crowd and the disappointment of some 2,000 Poles who came to watch the match.
It was only a second win for Slovenia in seven tries against Poland, a much-needed boost ahead of Monday's match in the same qualifiers against Israel, with which Slovenia shares the third place in the group with eight points each.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek said it was a "real game, and good atmosphere. When you beat the leading team in the group, it can be a great plus and impetus at that moment. Congratulations to the lads and let the Stožice Stadium be full also on Monday."
Šporar admitted that the team is a little bit euphoric after the win, but was quick to note that the "win needs to be confirmed on Monday with another three points. If we fail to do this, this win will mean nothing," he added.
Poland are still at the top of Group G with 12 points midway through the qualifiers, followed by Austria with nine. The last two teams in the standings are North Macedonia (5) and Latvia with no points.
STA, 3 September 2019 - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič won on Tuesday the tenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana race, the 36.2-km individual time-trial in France's Pau, taking the race leader's red jersey. The 29-year-old has thus become the first Slovenian to have won a stage at all three Grand Tours.
Roglič, who was the top favourite for today's victory, was ahead of his rivals the whole time during the stage, which started in Jurancon and ended in Pau.
The Jumbo-Visma rider was 21 seconds ahead of his fellow countrymen Tadej Pogačar at the first time measurement and 19 seconds ahead of New Zealand's Patrick Bevin, who took second place, estimating his losses to 25 seconds across the line.
"The time trial was difficult and I tried to beat it as quickly as possible. I'm happy about today's performance. I aimed to ride as fast as possible the whole stage and luckily it was enough for the win," Roglič said after his victory.
He gained a lot of advantage over his rivals at the top, having a minute and 52 seconds before the second-placed Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde, and could be another step closer to winning the Spanish Grand Tour.
"We'll see about that in Madrid. I won today, let's take it one step at a time," Roglič told the press.
He is currently also wearing the green jersey, worn by the leader in the points competition.
Pogačar, who was successful at the start of the dynamic time trial, eventually took the 11th place.
This is Roglič's 20th win in the world series, 10th this year, and 8th in time trial stages.
He won two stages at this year's Giro d'Italia, and won four of the six time trials he took part in this year.
The previous owner of the red jersey, Colombian Nairo Quintana, has 3 minutes and 6 seconds in losses behind Roglič.
Roglič has also become the second Slovenian to be wearing the Vuelta red jersey - before him only Janez Brajkovič managed the feat in 2006 and 2013.
September 1, 2019
The Slovenian Open National Hot Air Balloon Championship concluded this Sunday with the last set of 30 tasks 37 pilots from 16 countries had to perform over the competition’s five-day period. The overall winners were Dominic Bareford from Great Britain (gold), John Petrehn form the USA (silver) and Matthew Scaife from Australia in third place, while at the national level of the competition Vito Rome took gold, Jernej Bojanovič silver and Radoš Švagelj bronze.
The area of Pomurje with Murska Sobota as its capital will be hosting the next World Hot Air Balloon Championship between 19 and 26 of September 2020, and this week’s competition served as preparation for this much bigger event, in which 145 balloons and 800 participants are expected to take part.
The World Hot Air Balloon Championship is a biannual event that took place in Brazil in 2014, Japan in 2016 and Austria in 2018.
Pomurje with its lowlands, appropriate temperatures and winds has the ideal geography for ballooning and the organisers are already looking forward to the competition.
When we first heard about Ross Murray-Jones’ plan to swim, cycle and run from Piran to Triglav we had to know more, so we sent some questions that he was kind enough to answer.
Tell us a little bit more about Sea-to-Summit Slovenia. What is it exactly?
Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a long-distance multisport triathlon from the Adriatic Sea to the highest mountain in the Julian Alps. After months of training and planning, this September, Chris Ryan and I will complete this never-before-attempted endurance challenge in under 24 hours. [ed. Sometime in the first or second week is the current aim, but it all depends on the weather]
Starting from Piran, we’ll paddleboard two-thirds of the Slovenian coastline to Koper before crossing the country by road bike, through the capital Ljubljana and passed world-famous Lake Bled, finishing with a climb to the summit of Triglav at 2,864m.
That sounds tiring. How did you come up with the idea?
In February this year I competed in Red Bull’s Samo Gas ski cross race on Kanin. From Slovenia’s highest ski resort you can see container ships docking at Trieste’s Italian port in the Adriatic, and the journey from sea-to-summit seemed do-able in a day. So I approached the only guy I knew crazy enough to come along with me, Chris, an old friend from London. Over a few beers the original idea escalated quickly to include a sea leg, the peak changed to Triglav and the decision was made to keep within Slovene borders only, adding an extra 100km onto the bike ride. And thus Slovenia’s toughest ever triathlon was born.
Where are you from and have you ever done anything like this before?
Chris and I are both from London originally. We came to Slovenia as part of the launch of a ski tech business and fell in love with this small, charming European country. Slovenia is really a hidden gem and the quality of life is simply incomparable to anywhere else we’ve lived.
We’re both quite sporty and have ticked off a number of Slovenia’s best sports events already, from UTVV100 and the Ljubljana Marathon to IRONMAN 70.3 Slovenian Istria and Red Bull’s infamous Goni Pony. However this new challenge takes us both to the next level: a 24-hour non-stop event.
Twenty-four hours is a long time indeed - how did you train for this challenge and did you pick up any injuries along the way?
The first problem was that although I’d kayaked 1,300km around an island in the Philippines a few years ago, I’d never really paddle boarded before and neither had Chris. Luckily, we teamed up with Slovenia’s SUP race team this summer, Tiki Team, who quickly taught us the basics over weekly training sessions. This was combined with time on the saddle: 100km+ bike rides from Slovenia into Croatia, Italy and Austria and even up to Mangart, Slovenia’s highest road as well as long trail days to the summits of Grintovec, Stol and Triglav.
Fortunately, my weekly appointments with Fizio Tri in Kamnik and regular conditioning sessions with JD Coaching in Ljubljana have kept me injury free thus far. My only serious incident happened recently on a morning bike ride around Vis Island, Croatia when unfortunately I came into contact with a dog and went straight over my handlebars; this has kept me off the bike the last few weeks.
Can you talk me through the various stages of the challenge, and will you take any breaks?
The Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a multisport triathlon so there are three distinct stages to complete in under 24 hours covering 219km and 4,400m of elevation.
Stage 1: 15km paddleboard from Piran to Koper.
Stage 2: 190km road bike from Koper to Krma. 2,400m of elevation.
Stage 3: 14km trail run/climb from Krma to Triglav. 2,000m of elevation.
The 24-hour deadline is really tight, leaving little margin for error, but we have factored in a 20-minute rest break every three hours to check equipment, stretch, change clothes and take on board solid nutrition as required.
What parts do you expect to be most challenging?
Whatever we have to do in the dark will be tough. After careful consideration, we decided the bike would be our best choice given our relative inexperience on the paddleboard and the inherent dangers of climbing the country’s tallest mountain at night and tired. By starting at midday, we plan to reach Triglav Glacier in low light the next morning before making our summit bid on a rising sun.
Weather, especially wind, will also play a big factor in whether we’re able to finish the challenge in time. To mitigate this concern, we’ve given ourselves a five-day window in early September to minimise the chance of any big waves, crosswinds on the road or unsafe conditions high up on the mountain.
Will you use any special equipment?
A friend of mine is on Bestway’s SUP team and so we’ve both got a Bestway Hydro-Force Fastblast Tech SUP for Stage 1. For Stage 3, our friends over at Hoka One One have also kitted us out with a Speedgoat 3 trail running shoe for Chris and Sky Arkali hiking shoe for me so we have the right footwear for the job. Other than that we have invested in safety equipment such as bike lights, helmets and Personal Flotation Devices alongside various other bits and bobs such as MSR Dynalock Ascent poles and a Quad Lock for my iPhone X to make navigation easier.
Any idea what you’ll eat the day before, and on the day?
We'll likely burn through 20,000 calories so nutrition is definitely ‘Stage 4’, an absolutely key part of the challenge to prevent bonking (the curse of any endurance athlete).
We’ve devised a custom nutrition plan which starts 48 hours prior with spaghetti bolognese. The night before is an opportunity to carb up an extra 2,000+ calories with a large pepperoni pizza, and on the morning of the event, two eggs on brown bread with butter and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and coffee should get us going. Delicious!
On the day, we'll drink just under a litre per hour on average mixed with electrolytes to maintain salt and mineral levels and then consume on-the-go snacks every 45 minutes, such as potica. It’s important to eat proper food too, so we’ll stop for Štruklji or prosciutto, pickles and cheese sandwiches at predetermined locations. And just in case, we’ll load up the support van with extras we might crave such as Red Bull, Calipo’s and salty olives!
So you’ll have people following you?
Yes, we'll have a support crew consisting of our very understanding partners to help us along the way. Without them, the challenge would simply be impossible from a logistical perspective given the need to switch equipment multiple times and take on nutrition in the dead of night.
At this point I should probably ask why are you doing this?
Chris and I really wanted to showcase the beauty and diversity of this country we’ve grown very fond of. Over the course of 24 hours, we’ll go from sparkling sand and blue waters through to medieval towns and glacial lakes before finishing up in the snowy peaks of the southern alps. Slovenia is really one of Europe’s leading outdoor adventure destinations and we wanted to highlight this in our own unique way.
More personally, I find pushing my limits gives me a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction. Success in life requires passion, grit and determination, and Sea-To-Summit embodies all of these aspects in one. And if we can inspire even just one person that it’s possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things than that would be great too.
Finally, what’s the worst thing about living in Slovenia, and what’s the best?
The best is definitely the quality of life. The country itself packs a real punch in terms of its beauty, safety and kindness of locals. Moreover, within two hours you can be sailing in Croatia, skiing in Austria or eating a pizza in Italy. It’s incredibly diverse. And the worst has to be that Slovene is a very difficult language to learn and there unfortunately isn't a huge amount of material available to help. No Duolingo for now! Luckily, most Slovenes are very proficient in English. In fact, I’d even say some Slovenians knowledge of English would put us lot back in Britain to shame.
STA, 24 August 2019 - The Slovenian pair of Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won the bronze medal in the women's 500m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Hungary's Szeged on Saturday, which comes after Friday's silver in the 200m event.
The medal for Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman means that the pair have earned a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by virtue of finishing in the top six.
The Slovenians made it to the finals after posting the fastest time in the semi-finals, but had to concede to the Belarusian and Polish pairs in the final, who finished first and second, respectively.
Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman finished 1.66 second behind the winning boat and 0.87 seconds behind the second-placed Poland.
This is their third medal together at world championships, coming after yesterday's silver in the 200m event and the bronze in the 500m event in Račice, the Czech Republic, in 2017.
For Ponomarenko Janić, the fourth placed canoeist in the women's individual 200m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, this is the sixth medal at world championships.
STA, 23 August 2019 - The Slovenian pair of Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won the silver medal in the women's 200m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Hungary's Szeged on Friday, finishing half a second behind the winning Belarusian boat.
Until today, the Slovenian pair had been undefeated in this discipline this year. They were somewhat slow to start the race but managed to make their way to the second place and their second medal together at world championships.The race starts at about 1 hour 10 minutes in
For Ponomarenko Janić, the fourth placed canoeist in the women's individual 200m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, this is the fifth medal at world championships.
As the 200m for pairs is not an Olympic discipline, Saturday's finals in the 500m discipline for pairs will be even more important for Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman, as they will try to earn a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The pair, which had the best time in the semi-finals, will need to finish in the top six to do so.
STA, 20 August 2019 - Janja Garnbret has claimed her third gold medal at the IFSC Climbing World Championships in Japan's Hachioji, securing the title in the combined, an Olympic discipline, on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Slovenian is the first ever climber to complete a hat trick in a single championships.
Garnbret had already secured gold in the women's lead discipline on Thursday after defending the title of bouldering world champion a week ago. Her sixth world championship gold medal overall makes her the most successful athlete in the history of the sport.
Combining speed, bouldering and lead, the new discipline has been created especially for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the first time that climbing will be included in the Olympic Games.
Podium winners in the event are determined by the lowest product of the climbers' ranks after three rounds in each of the three disciplines. Garnbret placed sixth in speed, 4th in boulders and top in the lead, which gave her 12 points.
Silver went to Japanese Akiyo Noguchi, who scored 21, and bronze to Briton Shauna Coxsey, who scored 42.
Garnbert entered the final stage, the lead, from 4th spot, with Coxsey in the lead ahead of Noguchi and Pole Aleksandra Miroslaw, who did best in speed. Garnbret made it to the top, while Coxsey and Noguchi failed.
"It's amazing to have three gold medals at this world championships. I had a lot of fun. I didn't have the best start in speed but I really enjoyed the whole competition," Garnbret said in her first comment.
Despite signs of fatigue after nine days of competition, which reflected in her performance in speed and her struggling on the first boulder, she enjoyed "all the boulders. In the lead I showed what I have and I'm really happy."
The latest achievement brings Slovenia's tally of medals at sports climbing world championships to 18. Another Slovenian medallist in Japan, Mia Krampl took silver in the lead discipline, trumped only by Garnbret.
STA, 19 August 2019 - The best Slovenian tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open, the biggest international tennis tournament in the country, on Sunday, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3, in the finals, which lasted an hour and 38 minutes. This is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old.
The win counts as Bedene's 25th consecutive victory at tournaments at this level. He clinched victory at the last five Challenger tournaments he participated in, not being outmatched at them since March 2017.
Bedene is the third Slovenian player to have won the Slovenia Open, following Grega Žemlja (winning in 2013) and Blaž Kavčič (2014). Last year the title went to French Constant Lestienne.
The Ljubljana-born player received EUR 6,190 along with the tournament's prize and 80 ATP points, which have raised him ten places to 80th in ATP world rankings.
"It's nice to raise the cup, particularly knowing that I haven't played my best. Many times I kept saving points, but I showed character and fought throughout the match. Luckily, such tournaments allow for more mistakes. At an ATP tournament I would have lost quickly had I played this way," said Bedene after the match.
His opponent in the finals was placed almost 350 places below him in ATP world rankings before Sunday's match, but according to Bedene, Durasovic played better than his ranking would have indicated and will probably make headlines in the future.
Durasovic got in the lead in the second set by 3:0, but then Bedene raised his game to win the next six games and rejoiced in victory in front of the home crowd.
"I knew I needed to step up my game because I didn't want to play a third set once more. I sped up and snatched the well-deserved win," said the most recent winner of the Slovenia Open.
The highlight of the tournament though was not the finals but the semi-final face-off between the two best Slovenian players, Bedene and third-seeded Blaž Rola.
The crowd saw the 30-year-old winning over his two years younger rival, who still rose by some 15 places to 127th after the tournament.
The Slovenia Open's champion used the tournament to prepare for the US Open, which started today, and its hard court surface.
"I've done my task. I played the maximum number of matches and I think that my coaching team and I have come closer to a level of playing I need to continue the season.
"As a result I'm quite tired, I've been playing five days back-to-back and some rest will be welcome," said the 30-year-old.
STA, 18 August 2019 - Slovenian motocross star Tim Gajser won his second championship title at the MXGP in Imola on Sunday. Although a second run of today's race is yet to start, Gajser has already accumulated sufficient advantage to claim the title.
The 22-year-old is currently in place five of MXGP of Italy. To win the title, he needs to finish the race in place eight today. However, his current advantage over Swiss Jeremy Seewer, second overall, is more than enough for the title.
After the first run, he said: "I did not start too well, then I made it to second place, tried to win, but I fell. I tried to get back [to the forefront] but I needed a few laps. I am very happy, this has been a great season, everybody did a great job."
Gajser claimed his first MXGP championship title in 2016, his first year in the top motocross class, when he was not yet 20 years old.
In 2015, he won the MX2 title and signed a long-term contract with Honda. When he started racing in MXGP the year after, he made made quite an entrance, winning his first ever race at the top level.
Motocross has been a family business for Gajser, with his father serving as his coach, adviser and mechanic up to about a year ago.
STA, 15 August 2019 - Slovenia swept the women's lead discipline event at the IFSC Climbing World Championships in Japan's Hachioji on Thursday with Janja Garnbret taking another gold and Mia Krampl silver.
This is the second gold medal for Garnbret at this championships after she defended the title of bouldering world champion on Tuesday, and her fifth world championship gold medal overall.
"I was a little nervous before, because I didn't know what to expect, the route was bumpy and you just had to climb, so you could see in my climbing I was a little bit nervous, but I did all I could, so I was happy with my performance. And that I've won again, twice at this championships, is just amazing," the 20-year old champion said.
The home crowd cheered Ai Mori, who placed third, after the 19-year old Slovenian Krampl, who won her first medal at major competitions. Her only podium so far was third place in bouldering at the World Cup meet in Munich in May this year.
The latest feats have put Slovenia's tally of medals at climbing world championships to 17.