STA, 18 June 2022 - Slovenian cycling superstar Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) finished the fourth stage of the Tour of Slovenia second on Saturday, leaving the victory to his teammate Polish rider Rafal Majka only meters before the finish line on the Velika Planina mountain. But Pogačar remains in the lead overall, followed by Majka.
The 23-year-old Slovenian is now only three seconds ahead of Majka before the final stage on Sunday. Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious), who finished 11th today, is third, 1.56 minutes behind Pogačar.
As expected, today's race was decided in the final, 8.2-kilometre ascent to Velika Planina, where the Slovenian-Polish pair dominated. The two were separated from other competitors five kilometres before the finish line.
Thus, Pogačar and Majka were in an excellent position for the third time at the Tour, as Majka won the first stage (Pogačar was third) and Pogačar the third (followed by Majka).
Approaching the finish line together, far ahead of everybody else, the two first congratulated each other and then Majka crossed the finish line first.
Spain's Fernando Barcelo (Caja Rural Seguros), was third, arriving 22 seconds behind the winner. Italy's Vicenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa Cycling Team) was fifth, 25 seconds behind the winner.
On Sunday, the cyclists are in for the final, 155.7-kilometre stage from Vrhnika to Novo Mesto.
STA, 17 June 2022 - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the third stage of the Tour of Slovenia on Friday in what was a fierce attack before the finishing line. The world No.1 cyclist now leads in the race's overall standings. His teammate, Poland's Rafal Majka, was second and Italy's Nicola Conci (Alpecin Fenix) finished third.
The win was a repeat of last year's feat when Pogačar won stage two of the Slovenian race by showcasing all the tricks of the trade. Both last year and this year he attacked some 20 kilometres before the finishing line during a steep ascent, the only difference being that today he was chased by Majka.
The Polish rider won stage one on Wednesday and was leading in the overall standings until Pogačar's latest stage win. Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain-Victorious) currently ranks third overall.
In what was another highlight of today's stage, Slovenia's Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange - Jayco) finished fourth.
"I gave it my all," Pogačar told the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija after the win.
Pogačar's and Majka's cycling team, UAE Team Emirates, said today that two of their riders had tested positive for coronavirus, including Denmark's Mikkel Bjerg, who had been competing in the Slovenian race and has since pulled out of it. His room-mate, Norway's Vegard Stake Laengen, has also waved goodbye to the competition under a precautionary measure taken by UAE Team Emirates.
Other riders and staff in the team, including Pogačar, have tested negative for now.
On Saturday, the 152 km queens stage will take the riders from Laško in the east to Velika Planina in the north.
The Tour of Slovenia is the country's biggest road cycling race that has become a final competitive test before the Tour de France for many riders in recent years. Pogačar will be defending his two-time title at the 2022 Tour de France.
STA, 15 June 2022 - Polish rider Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) won the first stage of the Tour of Slovenia race on Wednesday. Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) finished in second place and Slovenia's cycling star and current No. 1 cyclist in the world, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), was third.
Majka led the way with the two Slovenians in the second half of the 164.7 km hilly stage from Nova Gorica to Postojna in the west of the country.
After chasing breakaway riders during the flat terrain segment of the stage, it was Pogačar, the favourite of the race, who took his chance on the first climb.
Being rested after two months without competitive racing, he made a successful attack, and Majka and Novak followed suit.
In the final sprint, Majka broke away from the two Slovenian riders and crossed the finish line first. This was his first stage win after last year's Vuelta a Espana.
"The stage was difficult because it was very hot. It was a nice test before the Tour de France, we have to get used to this heat... Tadej had good legs. It's nice to ride here, we had a good rhythm, and I'm also happy that Tadej allowed me to win because he's definitely faster than me. Tadej will definitely win some stages in the next few days and definitely the overall as well," Majka, who won the 2017 Tour of Slovenia, told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
On Thursday, cyclists will ride the 174.2 km stage from Ptuj (NE) to Rogaška Slatina (E). This will be the only of the race's five stages that presents an actual chance for sprinters to bag a win.
The Tour of Slovenia is the country's biggest road cycling race. In recent years, many riders have started to see it as a final competitive test before the Tour de France. The latter, starting in Denmark on 1 July, will see Pogačar defend his two-time title.
STA, 12 June 2022 - Slovenian rider Primož Roglič won the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine road cycling race after letting Jumbo Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark take the final mountain stage between Saint-Alban-Leysse and Plateau de Salaison.
The 32-year-old three-time winner of La Vuelta is the second Slovenian to win this race leading up to the Tour de France after Janez Brajkovič attained the feat 12 years ago.
It is Roglič's 64th career victory and the fourth this season. He is only the fourth rider in history to win the biggest week-long races in France, the Paris-Nice and the Dauphine, the same year after French Jacques Anquetil (1963, 1965), Belgian Eddy Merckx (1971) and Briton Bradley Wiggins (2012).
Coming in second today, Roglič finished the race with an overall lead of 40 seconds ahead of Vingegaard. The pair reached the top of the Plateau de Solaison hand-in-hand but the Dane was the first to cross the finish line. Australian Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen) finished the stage and the race third.
"Finally I got to win a few races in France, the feeling is really great," Roglič said in his first comment.
He praised the whole Jumbo Visma team for their excellent joint effort as they controlled the stage the whole way from the start to finish.
"Jonas was very strong on the last climb, it was really a crazy, amazing finish for the team," he added after his last test ahead of the start of the Tour of France in Copenhagen on 1 July.
STA, 12 June 2022 - Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland won the 41st Franja Marathon on Sunday to defend last year's victory in what is Slovenia's largest amateur cycling event.
The 39-year-old former Tour de France polka-dot jersey winner finished the 156-kilometre race in 3 hours, 37 minutes and 28 seconds, beating an Italian breakaway group.
Luca Chiesi came in second and Ettore Carlini third, followed by two more Italians, Francesco Bongiorno in fourth and Christian Dallago in fifth. The latter built a lag of 52 seconds.
The best Slovenian was Tadej Sedar in 9th.
Slovenia's Laura Šimenc was best among women, finishing the race in 3:50:17 for her third Franja victory after 2017 and 2020. Her compatriot Nina Pugelj came in second and Italian Elena Maria Palmisano placed third.
The marathon takes riders from Ljubljana on a round trip to Cerkno in the west of the country and back. It is named after a hospital operated by the Partisan resistance movement during World War II near Cerkno.
STA, 10 June 2022 - The 41st iteration of the Franja Marathon, the largest recreational and amateur cycling event in Slovenia, will take place this weekend, with the main event, the 156-km classic marathon Franja BTC City, scheduled for Sunday.
The festivities will start with a 72-km Barjanka race, which is shortened this year due to road work, followed by the 21-km Ikea family marathon, and a 1.2-km race for children.
In addition to the main race, which is part of the world series of marathons under the auspices of the International Cycling Union (UCI), Sunday's programme will also feature a short marathon (97 km) and the closing ceremony with awards.
Franja Marathon director Gorazd Penko, a former cyclist, is happy that the event will be held this year without coronavirus-related restrictions, and is convinced that this year's iteration will be the best ever.
After the number of participants reached 2,500 last year, the number is expected to be slightly higher this year, and foreigners are also returning to the Franja Marathon, with last year's winner, Dutch Johnny Hoogerland, to return.
STA, 6 June 2022 - The team that won the 2017 EuroBasket title will reunite in Stožice Arena on 30 June for a 2023 World Cup qualifier against Croatia as the national side is joined by Slovenian NBA stars Goran Dragić, Luka Dončić and Vlatko Čančar.
Under the guide of head coach Aleksander Sekulić, the team will get together on 15 June. The only player missing will be Klemen Prepelič, who is recovering following a surgery to deal with an ulnar fracture, the Slovenian Basketball Association has announced.
Goran Dragić, a Brooklyn Nets point guard, will be joining the national team for the first time since they won gold at the 2017 EuroBasket with him as the captain. It will be a special occasion for Dragić to bid farewell to his teammates.
In the final match of the 6th round of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup, Slovenia will take on Sweden in Stockholm on 3 July.
"We're facing a very challenging June and early July ahead, with two very important matches. All the more so because we lost two in the February cycle. Our plan was to come together with the strongest possible line-up and play these two games the way we want to play them, that is to clinch two wins," said Sekulić.
On his roaster will be Jaka Blažič, Vlatko Čančar, Jakob Lovrenc Čebašek, Žiga Dimec, Luka Dončić, Goran Dragić, Zoran Dragić, Gregor Glas, Gregor Horvat, Jurij Macura, Edo Murić, Aleksej Nikolić, Luka Rupnik, Žan Maks Šiško and Mike Tobey.
After four games in the qualifying group C, Finland have chalked up three wins and one loss, Slovenia and Sweden have two wins and two defeats each and Croatia have one win and three losses. The top three teams in the group will advance to the next round of qualifying, starting in late August.
The World Cup will be hosted by Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines between 25 August and 10 September, 2023.
STA, 29 May 2022 - Canoeist Benjamin Savšek, Slovenia's reigning Olympic champion, won his fourth title as European champion at the Canoe Slalom European Championships in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia, on Sunday, for what is Slovenia's 15th gold at European championships.
"The feeling is great, being champion for the fourth time. I pulled off an excellent run on the hard route, which will make me even more motivated going forward," the 35-year-old Ljubljana athlete said after the feat.
This is Savšek's fifth medal at European championships, which matches the tally of Peter Kauzer, another Slovenian C-1 white water specialist. Savšek also has gold from the 2017 World Championship in France's Pau.
In the semis today, Savšek was still cautions, coming in 6th without touching a pole. He made up for the lag in the final heat, improving his time by more than three seconds.
He had previously already won European championships in 2015, 2019 and 2020.
STA, 26 May 2022 - The ongoing Giro d'Italia bicycle race will swerve into Slovenia for the second year in a row on Friday in a spectacle that is again expected to attract thousands of Slovenian fans.
While this year's Giro does not feature the world's no. 1 and no. 3 cyclists at present Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, the 19th stage will be among the crucial ones for the final classification.
Stretching across 177 kilometres from Marano Lagunare on the Adriatic Sea and a mountain finish at Santuario di Castelmonte, the stage has several hilly sections and includes a 37-kilometre Slovenian stretch in the Soča river valley.
The stretch notably features a 10.3-km climb up Mt. Kobarid. It involves 950 vertical meters with an average incline of 9.2% and is considered one of the toughest in this year's Giro.
The riders will enter Slovenia after 101.1 kilometres at the Uccea/Učja border crossing, from where they will head to Kobarid and then slowly and surely up Mt. Kobarid. They will leave Slovenia after the descent from Mt. Kobarid.
Although the only remaining Slovenian participant in the race is Domen Novak, who is confined to the role of helper in the Bahrain-Victorious team, organisers again expect a massive turnout by Slovenian fans.
Last year as many as 50,000 cheered on the riders in Slovenia despite Covid-19 restrictions. Around 30,000 are expected this year due to route changes.
STA, 23 May - Maribor defeated the defending champions Mura 3:1 in Murska Sobota on Sunday to claim their 16th national championship title. They turned the things around in the last round, leapfrogging Koper, who played a goalless draw with Bravo in Ljubljana. The conclusion of the premier league did not go without some controversy, though.
Maribor finished the 36-round premier league competition with 70 points, three more than Koper, who had been looking at what would be their second national championship title ever.
The perennial champions from Slovenia's second city had a turbulent season. They replaced the head coach last September, with Radovan Karanović taking over to try to make some separation from Koper, who were neck-and-neck with Maribor all the time.
Two rounds before the end, Koper were on top of the rankings, but after winning the national cup, they slipped against Radomlje in the penultimate round to open the path for Maribor to win the record 16th Slovenian champions title.
Maribor scored on the chance by defeating the defending champions Mura on the road yesterday. "I always believed that we could be champions because I believed in what we have been doing," head coach Karanović told Šport TV after the win.
He noted that the players had shown the will for success. "I congratulate all the lads and the entire Maribor for returning where it belongs," he said, admitting that he was not happy with the parity of the league as fans were.
"The season was really even until the end, that's fine for the fans, but not especially for us, to be honest with you," said the coach. who is signed until 2024 and whose goal is to take Maribor to one of the European club competitions.
Maribor will now play in the first round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, and will get their opponent on 14 June.
Koper will play in the second qualifying round of the third-tier Conference League, while Olimpija, who did not manage to come to the top even after the arrival of Croatian head coach Robert Prosinečki, and Mura playing in the first round.
"Maribor has to take a step forward, as other teams are catching up. I congratulate Koper for everything they have done, but we will really have to take a step forward," Karanović said.
Koper, on the other hand, are disappointed with the outcome, with the club president Ante Guberac raising controversy and calling for an investigation by the Slovenian Football Association (NZS).
There are allegations that Maribor had offered financial incentives to Radomlje players and that they offered a contract to the suspended Mura goalkeeper Marko Zalokar ahead of the last round.
"It is us who are the champions! What Maribor has been doing in recent weeks has tarnished the league, I've lost my respect for Maribor," Guberac told the MMC portal, adding that the club will challenge the final outcome of the championship.
Forward Ognjen Mudrinski (Maribor), who scored 17 goals, has been declared the best player of the season, while Zoran Zeljković of Koper was declared the best head coach.
I'm thankful to my teammates, because I wouldn't have scored all those goals without their assists," said Mudrinski, whose further career in Maribor is under question mark, because he plays on loan from the Polish side Jagiellonia Bialystok.
STA, 22 May 2022 - Slovenian kayaker Anja Osterman won Sunday's flatwater 200-metre sprint World Cup event in Račice, Czech Republic, after finishing second in the 500-metre event yesterday, the first race of the World Cup season. Špela Ponomarenko Janić finishing third today. Dominika Putto from Poland was second.
"In October, when I decided for individual events my biggest fan, my father, had doubts. He was sceptical and said to myself I will prove him wrong. On Saturday, he admitted that these events are something else after all. But it's important that I've proven to myself too that I can do it," said Osterman, who previously competed in doubles competition with Špela Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she won the European title and silver medal at the World Championship in the 200m event.
"Of course I didn't believe I'd start the season with the first and second places, so the joy is that much bigger," she added.
Commenting on today's event, she said it had been less stressful than yesterday. "At 500 metres you have 1.50 minutes of pain, but here it's easier as by the time the pain really starts you're almost in the finish line."
She said she was particularly glad she could share the podium with Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she parted ways after last year's disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics, where they capsized just before the finish line.
"It's like old times, when we stood on the podium together," she said.
Ponomarenko Janić said she had not expected a medal. "I'd need a bit more practice, so I didn't count on anything more than the finals," she said, adding that she got more and more confident with each event, so she managed this excellent result. "The boat ran well ... I'm very happy."
Slovenia's success at the World Cup was rounded off with kayker Jošt Zakrajšek's bronze at a 5-kilometre event. "I was behind at first, but I remained calm. Everything was opening up until the first turn, I was making progress without energy consumption, and the rest of the race was surprisingly easy," he said.
He also thanked to Osterman and Ponomarenko Janić, who he said had been his inspiration for a while.