25th Tour of Slovenia starts, with Roglič as favourite
In what is a five-stage race for the first time in its history, the member of the Dutch LottoNl-Jumbo team will be among the main favourites, with the set-up of the stages suiting him well.
Roglič recently won the Tour of the Basque Country to become the first Slovenian overall winner of one of the toughest annual professional races in the world. He is also the first Slovenian to win a stage of the Tour de France in 2017.
Roglič is happy to be participating in the race again, but he admits that the competition will be harsh. He will give his best as the Tour of Slovenia will be his last race before the Tour de France in July.
The race will feature 22 teams, including a record nine teams from the UCI World Tour, the highest category in professional road cycling.
The nine teams are Bora-Hansgrohe with last year's winner Rafal Majka, Katusha-Alpecin, Bahrain-Merida, LottoNl-Jumbo, Dimension Data, Mitchelton-Scott and EF Education First-Drapac, Sunweb and UAE Emirates.
Roglič's biggest competitors will be Majka, who is however not in a good shape this year, and sprinters Marcel Kittel of Germany, Caleb Ewan of Australia, Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands and Mark Cavendish of the UK.
Like last year, the 664-kilometre race will be broadcast live by Eurosport and national television RTV Slovenija. The organisers are operating with the budget of around EUR 1m.
The Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) has joined the campaign this year as well, with one third of the seven hours of live broadcast on Eurosport featuring shots of the country's natural and cultural sites, according to STO director Maja Pak.
The first stage will cross the border with Hungary, which is the last neighbouring country not to host the race in its 25 years of existence.
The third stage from Slovenske Konjice to Celje, which is 175.7 km long, is expected to be the biggest test for the cyclists, as it will feature climbs to the hills around Celje.
It will be preceded by a 152.7-km stage between Maribor and Rogaška Slatina and followed by a 155.2-km stage from the capital of Ljubljana and Kamnik, another huge test for the cyclists with a total of 2,900 m in altitude difference.
The race will conclude on Sunday with a 21.5 km time trial, which will take place between Trebnje and Novo Mesto.
Traditionally, the overall winner will be presented with a replica of the world's oldest wheel, found in the Ljubljana Marshes in 2002, and dated 3,200 BC.