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Bottas at start of European Championship/BK gravel: 'Happy to finish'

Bottas at start of European Championship/BK gravel: 'Happy to finish'

02-10-2023 09:59 Last update: 11:45

Valtteri Bottas took a trip to a very different sport this weekend: the European Championship/BK gravel in Oud-Heverlee, Belgium, where cyclists and special gravel bikes pedal over a largely unpaved course.

Bottas competed in the amateur class in the 19-34 age group. The Finnish driver spoke to Belgian sports magazine Sporza before the race: "I am more nervous now than at an F1 race. Because this is less routine. That's kind of funny."

The F1 rider says he became addicted to gravel biking because of his girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell: "I am very passionate about racing and gravel biking in particular thanks to my girlfriend. It has become an addiction." Australian Cromwell is a professional road and gravel cyclist. She competes in the UCI Women's World Tour for the Canyon//SRAM Racing Team. In that team, Bottas' girlfriend has two Dutch teammates: Maike van der Duin and Pauliena Rooijakkers.

Taking part is important

The race in Oud-Heverlee was a 131-kilometre ride through the woods. Bottas managed to finish the race and eventually took 187th place. On Twitter, the Finn announced that he was happy to have survived the race: "Tough but fun gravel Europeans. Happy to make it to the finish and gain some experience riding around midfield on the fast and technical 131km course." Bottas' girlfriend did considerably better; she won the women's race.

That the Alfa Romeo driver was still able to make time for the gravel race is remarkable. Last week, he competed in the Japanese Grand Prix. And next weekend, he has to go to the Middle East for the Qatar Grand Prix. Bottas is currently 15th in the Formula 1 championship with six points, just above his Chinese teammate Guanyu Zhou.