STA, 9 June 2021 - The 27th Tour of Slovenia is kicking off on Wednesday, with the star of the 803.7 km-long five-day race being the winner of last year's Tour de France, Tadej Pogačar. The 22-year-old is the undisputed favourite, as he is expected to have no true rivals, at least as far as big names are concerned.
Pogačar is in the final stages of his preparations for this year's Tour de France and is looking to win the race at home for the first time in his career.
He has competed in the Tour of Slovenia four times, finishing fifth in 2017 at the age of 18, fourth the following year (when Primož Roglič won), and achieving another fourth place in 2019.
"The last time I raced in Slovenia, I helped my teammate Ulissi to win. And this time we are coming here with the aim of defending that victory. I will be happy to come home - it's a race I'd really like to win," the youngster said a few weeks ago.
In addition to Pogačar's UAE Team Emirates, three other top level UCI WorldTeams will compete: BikeExchange, Astana-Premier Tech and Bahrain Victorious, while the remaining 16 teams come from different continental levels.
In total, there will be 23 Slovenians at the start, four of them UCI World Tour competitors.
The Tour of Slovenia belongs to the second-tier professional cycling category (2.Pro), and it will be broadcast live on Eurosport and on Slovenian public television. It will be in the spotlight even more this year due to the appearance of the reigning Tour de France champion, the first time in the history of the race around Slovenia.
The Tour of Slovenia has seen 26 editions so far, having only been cancelled in 2020 and 1997. According to the race's website, 2,883 cyclists have competed in the race so far, with Croatian Radoslav Rogina holding the record for most appearances, as he competed in 19 races.
This year's race will start in Ptuj and end in Novo Mesto on 13 June. It will be the explosive hill climbers who will be in the hunt for the overall victory, with the second and fourth stages being the most demanding.
The 2021 Tour of Slovenia will coincide with another major Slovenian cycling event - the amateur Franja Marathon, which will start in Ljubljana on 13 June.
Stages of the 27th Tour of Slovenia 09 June - Stage 1: Ptuj - Rogaška Slatina (151.5 km) 10 June - Stage 2: Žalec - Celje (147 km) 11 June - Stage 3: Brežice - Krško (165.8 km) 12 June - Stage 4: Ajdovščina - Nova Gorica (164.1 km) 13 June - Stage 5: Ljubljana - Novo Mesto (175.3 km)
Note: Visit the Tour of Slovenia website (https://tourofslovenia.si/en) for more information about the schedule and road closures.
STA, 8 June 2021 - Tamara Zidanšek continues to make Slovenian tennis history as she has advanced to the semi-finals of the French Open. The 23-year old defeated Paula Badosa of Spain in Tuesday's quarter-finals in Paris in three sets (7:5, 4:6 and 8:6).
Zidanšek became the first semi-finalist of Roland-Garros, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the semi-finals on Thursday.
In her first Grand Slam quarter-finals, the Slovenian needed almost two hours and a half to defeat the tough Spaniard, who got broken down only in the extra games in the last set.
Prior to the win, Zidanšek became the first Slovenian female tennis player to advance to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament in a singles competition since 1977, when Mima Jaušovec won it all on the Paris clay.
"I had known already before the match that it would be a difficult encounter. I was leading in the second set, but she came back. I did not feel quite well, but then in the third set I felt better and eventually I won," Zidanšek told reporters.
The Slovenian was swarmed by the press after the win as she became a new rising star in Paris, and she had to hold a lengthy press conference to answer all questions imaginable from reporters.
"Slovenia is indeed a small country, but it has plenty of top athletes," Zidanšek said, adding that she personally was building her career gradually, step by step.
"I never skipped any steps. I build by career like a house, slowly and reliably. I was not a wunderkind who would stand out at the age of 16," she added.
Zidanšek has been overwhelmed by congratulations, including in person from the top male tennis player in the world, Serb Novak Đoković, as she was leaving the main court at Roland-Garros.
"Everything was very emotional. I admit that I was nervous ahead of the match and right before the end, when you are aware of the importance of the win. But I remained calm and focused on my tasks," she told Radio Slovenija.
Zidanšek will take a day off to mentally and physically prepare for Pavlyuchenkova, who will also be playing in her first Grand Slam semi-finals, and to work on tactic for the Russian.
"Pavlyuchenkova is a very aggressive player who applies constant pressure from both sides. I will try to force my rhythm of play, make her run," the Slovenian added.
Prior to the tournament, she placed 85th on the WTA rankings and by making the career feat she is expected to crack the top-50.
STA, 7 June 2021 - Tamara Zidanšek has made Slovenian tennis history by advancing to the quarter-final of the French Open as the first Slovenian woman to do so in a singles competition since 1977.
Zidanšek defeated the Romanian Sorani Cirstea 7:6 (4), 6:1 on Sunday and will play the Spaniard Paula Badosa tomorrow.
The last time a Slovenian female player was in the singles quarter-final of a grand slam tournament was in 1977, when Mima Jaušovec ended up winning the Roland Garros.
"I've not yet really grasped what has happened. I'm trying to follow my instinct and it's working," the 23-year-old Zidanšek said.
"I knew before the tournament I was prepared and capable of aiming high, but I was not thinking about how high I could reach," she said.
Zidanšek placed 85th on the WTA rankings prior do the tournament.
STA, 6 June 2021 - Slovenia's female pair Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won Sunday's 200-metre race at the Canoe Sprint European Championships in Poznan, Poland. While their excellent K2 performances at top competitions are continuing, this is their first gold from European or world championships.
Silver was won by Poland's Dominika Putto and Katarzyna Kolodziejczyk (+0.385) and bronze by Hungary's Anna Lucz and Blanka Kiss (+0.418).
The Slovenian pair finished Saturday's 500-metre race fifth, falling 1.2 seconds short of bronze medal.
"The feeling is amazing. Especially after yesterday's '500' we managed to concentrate and focus, and paddle a good '200'.... Eventually we achieved a sovereign win," said Ponomarenko Janić.
Osterman said that after an initial lull, them managed to gain power and speed after the first few metres to race through the route. "It was really special to hear the Slovenian anthem, especially since we were on the podium together. We are really happy. Now we will prepare best for the Olympics," she added.
The pair's greatest feats before today include two silver medals, at the 2019 World Championships in Hungary's Szeged in a 200-metre race and at the 2017 European Championships in Bulgaria's Plovdiv in a 500-metre race.
One of Ponomarenko Janić's major K1 successes was meanwhile fourth place at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in the 200-metre sprint race.
STA, 3 June 2021 - Slovenians Uroš Kraševac and Maruša Močnik have set a new Guinness world record in distance travelled in a pair with a dinghy-class sailing boat, covering 360 nautical miles in over 80 hours to break the previous record by almost 30 nautical miles.
The Slovenians set off for their journey in Slovenia's Izola on Sunday and reached the record near the Croatian island of Mljet on Wednesday, finishing the trip in the nearby city of Dubrovnik.
The 28-year-old Kraševac is a member of the Sailing Association of Slovenia, where he coaches the national youth team in the Laser Standard class. He is active in competitive offshore long-distance sailing, his team has said.
His sister Maruša Močnik is a former competitive sailor, and the team also featured a number of friends and acquaintances who observed the feat.
One of the conditions for the record is that the sailors have absolutely no contact with the outside world. They were followed by viewers online, where they published daily challenges that could also be proposed by the followers.
Next year, Kraševec is scheduled to participate in the qualifiers for the 4,000 nautical mile Mini Transat race, a solo transatlantic yacht race that typically starts in France and ends in the Caribbean.
The race uses small 6.5 metre yachts of the Mini 650 class, and outside assistance is not permitted. Competitors are not allowed to have contact with the outside world and may not use weather support via satellite.
STA, 2 June 2021 - The 27th Tour of Slovenia will start next Wednesday, taking riders, including Slovenia's star Tadej Pogačar, along 800 kilometres in five stages, from north-eastern to central and south-western Slovenia. Preparations are fully under way for the race, which stakeholders also see as an opportunity for the country's tourist promotion.
The tour was presented to the press on Wednesday at Celje Castle, where the 146-km Žalec-Celje stage will finish following a kilometre-long steep climb.
The tour's director Bogdan Fink said the Žalec-Celje stage should be "the first serious test for riders for the overall victory".
"We have a clear favourite in Pogačar, the Tour de France winner, with many other riders who have nothing to lose alongside," he said, hoping the entire race proves interesting.
Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who won the Tour de France last year, will also take part as ambassador of Slovenian tourism.
Expectations are not high only in terms of competition, but also development opportunities the race brings to Slovenia and the regions hosting it.
Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) director Maja Pak said last year the race was watched by ten million people on Eurosport, which raised Slovenia's visibility.
Fink said this year viewers in more than 20 countries would be able to watch the tour, which is second highest ranked by International Cycling Union (UCI) standards.
Pak explained the promotional campaign would feature 230 30-second adds and around 80 adds for micro destinations hosting the tour around Slovenia.
The promotional campaign will also take place on social media, all under the "green" slogan, she added.
The mayors from the region around Celje said the tour was a major opportunity for their development and promotion through cycling as a sustainable means of transport.
Fink stressed the country was still amid the coronavirus epidemic, with riders already in a bubble and many coronavirus tests ahead.
Learn more at the Tour of Slovenia website
STA, 23 May 2021 - The famous road cycling race Giro d'Italia returned to Slovenia after 17 years, as Sunday's 15th stage from Grado to Gorizia also made a turn to Slovenia's picturesque wine-growing region of Brda and the city of Nova Gorica this afternoon.
This was the sixth time that the Grand Tour race passed through Slovenia, after 1922, 1971, 1994, 2001 and 2004.
The 15th stage from Grado to Gorizia was 147km long, of which 40km went through Slovenia, including three passes over the steep, 2-km long Gornje Cerovo climb.
This was followed by a succession of tough climbs and descents and after the third lap, the route passed through Nova Gorica and finished in the Italian town of Gorizia.
A number of spectators gathered along the Slovenian section of the route, particularly along the climb to Gornje Cerovo, while there were also many other activities organised along the route.
The stage was won by Belgium's Victor Campenaerts, while Colombia's Egan Bernal managed to keep the pink jersey.
Jan Tratnik, the only Slovenian fighting for what would be the ninth stage win for the country in the history of Giro, finished 31st after finishing 2nd yesterday.
STA, 23 May 2021 - The famous road cycling race Giro d'Italia is returning to Slovenia after 17 years, as Sunday's 15th stage from Grado to Gorizia will also make a turn to Slovenia's picturesque wine-growing region of Brda and the city of Nova Gorica.
This is the sixth time that the Grand Tour race will pass through Slovenia, after 1922, 1971, 1994, 2001 and 2004.
The 15th stage from Grado to Gorizia is 147 kilometres long, 40 kilometres of which will go through Slovenia, including three passes over the steep, 2-km long Gornje Cerovo climb.
This will be followed by a succession of tough climbs and descents and after the third lap, the route passes through Nova Gorica and finishes on the other side of the border in the Italian town of Gorizia.
Jan Tratnik will be the only Slovenian rider fighting for what would be the ninth stage win for the country in the history of Giro, after his teammate Matej Mohorič suffered a nasty fall and is out of the race.
The 31-year-old said that the most important will be to choose the right time for a breakaway. "I'll do my best, because I don't want to have any regrets after I cross the finish line."
Apart from numerous activities along the route, spectators will be allowed to watch the race from the sidelines, but there will be no organised arrivals.
STA, 8 May 2021 - Slovenian canoeists have been going from strength to strength, with silver for Eva Terčelj and bronze for Peter Kauzer at the European Canoe Slalom Championships on Saturday raising hopes for top positions at the Tokyo Olympics.
Terčelj is a world champion but the silver in the individual event is her first medal from a European championship.
Kauzer's bronze was even more welcomes in some sense, as it has also earned him a ticket to Tokyo, which Terčelj had secured before.
"There's absolutely no bitter aftertaste. I'm not dwelling on where I lost gold, I'm more than happy with silver," Terčelj said.
Kauzer, meanwhile, said he was almost as happy as winning gold given that he's now travelling to Tokyo.
STA, 3 May 2021 - The Slovenian Olympic torch set out on its 81-day journey around Slovenia in Bovec on Monday to visit all 212 municipalities until 23 July, after it was taken to Triglav, the country's highest mountain, at the weekend. Over 5,000 runners will carry the symbol of the Olympic Games in the run-up to the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The torch was brought to Bovec by athletes from Bovec area - footballer Primož Zorc, kayaker Igor Mlekuž and climber Tine Cuder, while ex-Alpine skier Miran Gašperšič had the honour of lighting it.
Mayor Valter Mlekuž said that it was a special honour for Bovec to see the Olympic torch begin its journey here.
Ex-runner Meta Mačus, head of the regional Olympic office in Nova Gorica, believes the torch will fill people with positive emotions and the Olympic spirit, as it connects the entire country.
?Slovenska bakla osvojila Triglav! ? Kljub slabemu vremenu je 6️⃣ gorskih reševalcev z derezami in smučmi ? osvojilo...Posted by Slovenia Olympic Team on Sunday, 2 May 2021
The torch was then taken by up-and-coming athletes from Bovec area footballer Zala Kuštrin, freestyle skier Matej Bradaškja and runner Tobi Gabršček passing it on to three riders, who took it to the town of Kobarid.
Children from the Bovec primary school also took part in the launch ceremony, carrying banners with motivational slogans for Slovenian athletes, while year-eight gymnasts presented their skills.
The torch's journey is organised by the Slovenian Olympic Committee in collaboration with the police.
The torch is made of recycled steel and Slovenian beechwood, and will finish its journey in Ravne na Koroškem, where it was forged.
STA, 25 April 2021 - Slovenia's rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege in what is his sixth win this season and 23rd overall, as his compatriot Primož Roglič failed to defend the title.
Pagačar is thus the second Slovenian rider to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, while he also won the 2020 Tour de France for a double Slovenian victory with Roglič.
The 22-year-old beat France's Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and his compatriot David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) in today's sprint finish of the best five.
The victory comes after he has recently won the multi-stage races in the United Arab Emirates and Tirreno-Adriatico.
Roglič, 31, meanwhile finished 13th, while the third Slovenian at the race, Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), was 10th.
Last year, Pogačar finished this race third, behind Roglič and Swiss rider Marc Hirschi.