‘I take bike racing seriously’ — Formula One's Valtteri Bottas has sights set on Gravel Worlds in 2024

The Alfa Romeo driver has already won his age group at SBT GRVL and is a co-creator of FNLD GRVL

A man in a blue cycling kit, helmet, and glasses rides a road bike on black asphalt toward the camera.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Valtteri Bottas is no stranger to going fast — the 34-year-old Finnish Formula One (F1) Driver for Alfa-Romeo has 67 F1 podiums to his name with 10 of those being on the top step. 

He is also an accomplished gravel cyclist who has tackled the Belgian Waffle Race and finished on the podium of his age group twice at SBT GRVL, a world-class gravel race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He's fallen so hard for the two-wheeled sport that he created his own gravel bike race and  Instagram page these days, features more bike content than F1 content. 

In 2024, he aims to take it up a notch by qualifying for the 2024 UCI Gravel World Championships. 

“Obviously, Formula One is the priority for me,” Bottas said in a recent episode of the Bobby and Jens podcast. “But a close second is cycling. Whenever I get the chance, I try to fit in some good [cycling] training blocks and I plan on racing some more gravel events this year - this time of year is for the bicycle.”

Tiffany Cromwell and Valtteri Bottas stand next to each other in font of the Canyon//SRAM team bus at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

Tiffany Cromwell and Valtteri Bottas at the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bottas knew he going to be a race car driver from the tender age of six, when he first started go-karting but “bikes were always around,” he said. “Road, mountain and, now, gravel — I love to ride everything.”

Before meeting his girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell, the Australian Olympian and member of the Canyon-SRAM racing team, Bottas rode once or twice for cardio. But since the pair got together, he's been all in on bikes. 

In 2022, the pair, together with the team behind SBT GRVL, announced the creation of FNLD GRVL, a gravel race held in his home country of Finland whose inaugural 2023 race was won by  Lidl-Trek's Toms Skujiņš and Cromwell. The race includes sponsorship from Bottas’ F1 team, Alfa Romeo.

Now, with a few races under his belt, Bottas has set his sights on a new goal: to quality for Gravel Worlds in 2024. 

This year’s UCI Gravel World Championships will be held October 5 and 6 in Belgium. While there are multiple ways to qualify, Bottas will likely leverage the option of finishing in the top 25% of his 35-39 men’s age group at a UCI gravel race between now and late September 2024. Qualifying races are held across the globe, including in Kenya, Poland, Canada, Switzerland and the U.S. from April through September.

Given that Bottas must balance his schedule with 25 potential F1 race starts, he will have to be strategic about where and when he takes his chance on qualifying for Gravel Worlds. 

“I take bike racing seriously. If I enter a race, it is automatic that something happens in my brain - I will always be out there to challenge myself. I don’t mind hurting myself [in a race],” Bottas said. “I will try to qualify for Gravel Worlds [in 2024]...that’s my goal.”

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