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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, set to win Vuelta a Espana

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Primoz Roglic, a world junior champion ski jumper, is in line to become the first Slovenian to win a cycling Grand Tour.

Roglic, 29, leads the Vuelta a Espana by 2 minutes, 33 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde going into Sunday’s final stage, usually a ceremonial ride into Madrid where there are no attacks on the red jersey.

Another Slovenian, 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar, won the last mountain stage Saturday to move past Colombian Nairo Quintana and into third place. Pogacar would be the youngest man to make a Grand Tour podium since 1974.

Roglic earned a world junior team title in ski jumping in 2007 — and suffered this scary crash — before switching to cycling.

He ascended quickly. Roglic won a stage in his Tour de France debut in 2017, then took silver in the time trial at that year’s world championships. The last two years, he finished fourth at the Tour de France and third at the Giro d’Italia.

He rides for Dutch Team Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta. Nor did recent Tour de France winners Egan BernalGeraint Thomas and Chris Froome.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

MORE: Chris Froome: Pre-Tour de France crash like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

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Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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