STA, 14 June 2019 - The 26th Tour of Slovenia, the country's biggest road cycling event, will get under way on 19 June. While the 808.5-kilometre race, divided into five stages, also features a number of international stars, the top favourite is Slovenia's young cycling sensation Tadej Pogačar.
This year's Tour of Slovenia will not feature Slovenia's best cyclist Primož Roglič, as the race's two-time winner, including last year, is taking a break after recently finishing third overall in the Giro D'Italia.
There will however be no lack of star power at the race, which was upgraded this year to HC (hors class) status, the second highest category on the race calendar of the International Cycling Union.
Some of the big sprinter names with stage win ambitions include former world champion Mark Cavendish from Britain, as well as the best sprinter of this year's Giro, Germany's Pascal Ackermann, while Pogačar's likely main rival for the overall win is Esteban Chaves.
The Columbian, whose career highlights include a second overall finish at the Giro and a third-place overall finish in Spain's La Vuelta, also won a Giro stage this year, as did three more participants of the Slovenian race - Italian riders Damiano Cima, Cesare Benedetti and Fausto Masnada.
Expectations are running high for 20-year-old Pogačar, who won the WorldTour race in California in May after also taking the overall victory at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal in February.
Pogačar, looking to clinch the 13th Slovenian victory at the Tour of Slovenia after he was the race's best young rider in the last two years, will have the backing of his Slovenian UAE team Emirates teammate Jan Polanc. A two-time Giro stage winner, the 27-year-old held the pink jersey of the overall leader in the Italy race in two stages this year.
The race, which will be broadcast live by Eurosport and public broadcaster TV Slovenija, will start next Wednesday in Ljubljana and end on 23 June in Slovenia's unofficial cycling capital Novo Mesto.
The route will provide opportunities for sprinters in the opening and final stage, while the remaining stages, in particular no. 3 and 4 will require some serious climbing power.
Meanwhile, deserving special mention is Croatian rider Radoslav Rogina, who will be participating in the race for the 20th time. The member of the Slovenian team Adria Mobile won the race in 2013.
Standing out among teams will be Novo Nordisk, all of whose riders compete with type 1 diabetes. "We race to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes as we compete against the best cyclists in the world," the team wrote on its website.
The Tour of Slovenia website can be found here