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Following a successful inaugural event in June 2023, Valtteri Bottas' FNLD GRVL race will return to his hometown of Lahti, Finland, on June 15, 2024.
This year's debut attracted nearly a thousand participants from 27 countries, and saw Lidl-Trek's Toms Skujiņš tap into his road fitness to take home the top honors as well as a big slice of the €20k pro prize purse. In the women's race, Bottas' partner and co-founder of the race, Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), did the same.
FNLD GRVL is a partnership between SBT GRVL's Amy Charity, F1 racer Bottas and Australian WorldTour pro Cromwell. SBT GRVL, now in its fifth year, is among the top gravel events in the United States; with FNLD GRVL, Charity and co want to create "the premier gravel event in Europe" as well.
“We’re already looking forward to returning to Lahti for the 2024 edition of FNLD Gravel and we’re excited to build on the success of 2023," says Charity.
"Once SBT GRVL wraps up in Colorado on August 20th, we will be back in full planning mode to build upon our rider experience in Lahti both on and off the bike with a few exciting changes in the works to make next year even more exciting for our sponsors and riders.”
Bottas grew up just 15 kilometers west of Lahti in Nastola, and still owns a Lake House in Lahti, which gives him out-the-door access to outdoor activities. When Cromwell introduced him to the world of bike racing in 2020, it wasn’t long before he started vying for the podium on his two-wheeled machines as well. After attending his first SBT GRVL race in Steamboat, Colorado, in 2021, Bottas was so impressed by the organization, racing and community aspect that he wanted to bring it to Finland.
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.
Whereas Midwest U.S. and Colorado gravel events are characterized by the vast, expansive plains on coarse gravel, at FNLD GRVL we enjoyed the rollercoaster, forest-covered terrain and varied surfaces of the various courses on offer.
“It was a nice surprise to find myself at the top of the Women’s podium this year and it was certainly a great way to experience the full route after testing it last autumn," comments Cromwell.
"Having ridden in the area extensively over the years I knew that Lahti had what it needed to host a world-class gravel race and now no one is left in doubt.”
For 2024, the race will again offer its €20k prize purse, split evenly among the men's and women's pro fields in the the flagship, 177-kilometre Mighnight Sun race. In addition to the 177-kilometer challenge, FNLD GRVL also offers a 40K short course —open to both electric and human-powered bikes— and a medium-length 77-kilometres "Lakes course" which promises to give riders a small taste of everything the region has to offer.
Just like its Coloradan sibling event, FNLD GRVL will be a one-day race wrapped in a four-day event, complete with an afterparty, sauna visits , entertainment and other activities.
Registration for FNLD GRVL will open January 9, 2024 on BikeReg. Fees range between $100 for the short course to $1000 for a full VIP package.
“I’m very happy that the 2023 event was such a success and we look forward to returning in 2024," says Bottas.
"To see so many participants from all over the world experience our local culture and gravel cycling was so rewarding. I had many riders approach me after the race to tell me how much they enjoyed the course and their time in Lahti. Bringing an event like FNLD GRVL to my hometown is a dream come true.”
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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.
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