Formula 1's Alfa Romeo races onto the gravel biking scene to sponsor of Valtteri Bottas' Finnish race

F1 Driver and race co-founder Valtteri Bottas merges his two worlds at his hometown gravel race

Formula one driver Valteri Bottas in cycling clothing
(Image credit: Thomas Maheux)

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. 

Merging business with pleasure, Bottas and his Alfa Romeo F1 Team KICK today announced a partnership around the inaugural FNLD GRVL event. Bottas is partnering with the organizers of SBT GRVL to host the much-anticipated (and equally vowel-less) event in his home region, the Finnish sports haven of Laht, on June 10, 2023. 

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.

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. 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. 

“The gravel bike has become an important tool for my physical and mental health outside of the race car,” said Bottas. “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. 

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Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist. She's now been a cycling journalist for 11 years.