Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas is well-known for his love of cycling. He might make his living inside a car but he spends countless hours in the saddle — which offers him an escape from the monotony of gym workouts. He’s also a common spectator at pro races and even owns a piece of cycling history: Tadej Pogačar’s 2021 Tour de France bike.
After meeting girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell, an Australian pro cyclist for Canyon-SRAM, Bottas fell in love with gravel cycling in particular, and the couple was spotted tackling some of the most popular races in the U.S. including SBT GRVL and the Belgian Waffle Ride.
Aiming to bring the spirit of gravel to his home region, the Finnish sports haven of Lahti, Bottas is partnering with the organizers of SBT GRVL to host the much-anticipated (and equally vowel-less) FNLD GRVL event, which is making its debut on June 10, 2023.
Merging business with pleasure, Bottas and his Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK today announced a partnership around the inaugural event. The F1 team has come onboard as an official title sponsor of the event, a first in the car-racing world.
The partnership is aims to introduce F1 fans to the world of gravel racing and to bring added exposure to the sport.
“The gravel bike has become an important tool for my physical and mental health outside of the race car,” said Bottas in a statement. “With this partnership between Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK and FNLD GRVL, I’m excited that these two worlds now exist in tandem.”
The Alfa Romeo team said they’re proud to support their driver and his personal endeavors.
“Gravel cycling has become an important part of Valtteri’s life off of the racetrack and we are thrilled to support what is sure to be an exciting event,” said Stefano Battiston, Head of Marketing & Communications of Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK.
FNLD GRVL is held in and around Lahti on the edge of Finnish Lake Region, just an hour’s drive north from Helsinki. The region is defined by more than 55,000 lakes that dot a forest-covered plateau and also houses the highest point of Southern Finland, Tiirismaa, which tops out at just 223 meters (732 feet), meaning that breathing comes easily and hard efforts can be sustained.
Having attended a test event last August, Cycling Weekly can attest to the attractiveness of the Finnish groads and event offerings. We were impressed by the rollercoaster, forest-covered terrain and varied surfaces of the various courses on offer at FNLD GRVL.
The race will offer three course distances with a 20,000 Euro pro prize purse, split evenly among the pro men’s and women’s fields. Race distances include The Midnight Sun Route (177km), The Lake Route (77km) and The Forest Route (40km).
The race day will be bookended with a program filled with entertainment and activities starting on June 8 and rolling through June 11.
Travel logistics are made easy with the help of public transportation. Helsinki is a quick, less than three-hour flight from either London or Amsterdam, and from there public transportation will take participants to Lahti.
Registration for FNLD Gravel will open November 15, 2022 on BikeReg. Fees range between $100 for the short course to $1000 for a full VIP package, which includes a coffee ride with Bottas and Cromwell.